GeneralHr Library

The Road to Extraordinary

Source | Quietrev 

In his new book Peak: Secrets of the New Science of Expertise, K. Anders Ericsson proposes that almost all of us have the seeds of excellence within us—it’s just a question of nurturing them via deliberate practice.

What is deliberate practice?

Deliberate practice is the breakdown of expertise into a  series of smaller, attainable practices. A deliberate practitioner engages in structured activities that improve performance in a specific area. The goal of deliberate practice is not just to reach your potential but to build it, to make things possible that were not possible before. It takes a long time, and it’s hard. But to quote one of today’s great philosophers, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great.” Thank you, A League of Their Own’s Jimmy Dugan.

Peak condenses three decades of original research to introduce a powerful approach to learning that is fundamentally different from the way people traditionally think about acquiring a skill. And it also clears up the whole “ten-thousand-hours to expertise rule” controversy (spoiler: it isn’t really a rule).

Excerpted from Peak: Secrets of the New Science of Expertise

How do you keep going? That is perhaps the biggest question that anyone engaged in purposeful or deliberate practice will eventually face. Getting started is easy, as anyone who has visited a gym after New Year’s knows. You decide that you want to get in shape or learn to play the guitar or pick up a new language, and so you jump right in. It’s exciting. It’s energizing. Then after a while, reality hits. It’s hard to find the time to work out or practice as much as you should, so you start missing sessions. You’re not improving as fast as you thought you would. It stops being fun, and your resolve to reach your goal weakens. Eventually you stop altogether, and you don’t start up again.

So that’s the problem in a nutshell: purposeful practice is hard work.

The question is, What can you do about it?

What can we learn from expert performers about what it takes to keep going? Let’s get one thing out of the way right up front. It may seem natural to assume that these people who maintain intense practice schedules for years have some rare gift of willpower or “grit” or “stick-toitiveness” that the rest of us just lack, but that would be a mistake for two very compelling reasons. First, there is little scientific evidence for the existence of a general “willpower” that can be applied in any situation.


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