“Practice makes perfect:” We’ve all heard this saying. But it turns out that this may not be true after all. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that “perfect practice makes perfect.” That’s what Geoff Colvin contends in his book, Talent is Overrated, which talks about the vital importance of what’s called “deliberate practice” to developing mastery in any field.
Deliberate practice, Geoff says, has eight characteristics. In his book, he explores them all in depth. A few insights:
• Deliberate practice focuses on improving performance: it requires you to get out of your comfort zone and stretch yourself — not to reach for unattainable goals, but to push yourself to get better.
• Deliberate practice requires consistency: Repetition is key. Once you know what you want to master, you must work at it repeatedly. This is where hard work and discipline come in.
• Deliberate practice requires intensive mental effort: if you’re not fully engaged and operating at a high level, then you are not moving toward mastery.
• Deliberate practice employs results-based feedback: it isn’t about abstract, pie-in-the-sky changes, it’s about making improvements that have practical impact on your performance.
The good news here is that deliberate practice is a strategy for getting to the next level that’s available to all of us. It’s not about talent or contacts — it’s about putting in serious time in an intentional, focused way with the goal of moving toward mastery. Definitely a concept worth exploring as we all write on!
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