“Your dream always lies outside your comfort zone.”
Coach Mike Tully
Whatever the dream that inspires us to write, achieving it is going to be demanding and uncomfortable: we’re going to have to push ourselves beyond self-imposed limitations. How do we get there from here?
My good friend and mentor, Coach Mike Tully, believes that what he calls “deliberate practice” offers us a road map. Deliberate practice is a systematic approach to skill-building that is the key to excellence, not just in sports, but in any field — including writing. In their inspiring guide, 10 Things Great Coaches Know, Gary Pritchard and Mike Tully explore the benefits and demands of deliberate practice. Here’s a glimpse of what they say:
While most people tend to focus their efforts on things they’re comfortable with and have already more or less mastered, those discontented strivers who engage in deliberate practice push themselves beyond their level of competence: they intentionally step out of their comfort zones and work on improving their performance in skills that don’t come easily to them. In a nutshell, deliberate practice is “the daily, painful, hard work of getting better.” You’re pursuing excellence by stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone — by systematically zeroing in on an area that needs improvement.
Deliberate practice isn’t easy: it demands self-motivation and perseverence. It leads to mastery by focusing on process rather than results — on effort rather than on outcome. According to Coach Tully’s book, the “Elements of deliberate practice are: a conscious effort to improve, repetitions that are many and measured, accurate and relevant feedback, and activity that is just outside the player’s area of competence.” We may not be players on the field, but we are players on the page: deliberate practice can help us catch our dreams.