On Deliberately Practicing

On Deliberately PracticingIn his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell famously claimed that it takes 10,000 hours of practice for a person to become an expert at an activity. More recently, studies have shown this is not strictly true: Practice can improve performance a lot at some activities, not so much at others. In general, it seems that the types of things most of us consider hobbies, like sports or arts, can be improved through practice. Gladwell himself has said that his 10,000 hour stat is mis-cited: While it requires about that much practice to become great at an activity, one must also have some predilection or talent to begin with. That’s bad news for my basketball career.

All this aside, practice is the key ingredient at improving performance, and given our shared human need for competence, we all thrive on growth to some extent. What some researchers term “deliberate practice” helps provide just that; deliberate practice involves not just repeating an activity multiple times, but setting goals, tracking performance, and correcting oneself along the way.

I believe that having a goal to work toward at any given time is part of what keeps me happy. Some of the things I deliberately practice are my running and updating this blog regularly. I also try to incorporate new things to work on every few months to keep things fresh.

What do you work on? How does deliberate practice make you feel?