BeeOasis Step 3
Tiger Woods started playing golf when he was two years old. Basically from birth, Tiger was trained by his father to become a great golfer. As a boy, baseball marvel Ichiro Suzuki practiced with his father every day. The practice sessions were hard, and Ichiro suffered. Mariah Carey started singing when she was three. She was taught by her mother who was an opera singer and voice coach.
We believe these people possess genius. We would say that they were born with a special talent, and we stand in awe of them. The feeling of wonder and awe is appropriate. But the popular understanding of their genius is mistaken. In fact, research shows top performers share one common trait. They know how to practice. And for them, more than anything, practice makes genius.
It is not just regular practice that makes a genius. It is a special kind of practice. Researchers call it “deliberate practice.” Years and years of deliberate practice will make you an expert. Deliberate practice is not the same as hard work, and it is not the same as play. With deliberate practice, you focus on actions that you need to improve. You concentrate on these actions intensively until you can do them well. You push yourself beyond what you can easily do now.
What is the key to deliberate practice? Focus on the skills you need to improve. This is the “learning zone.” These activities are challenging, but they are not too hard. Activities that are too hard are in the “panic zone.” You are not ready to practice them. Activities that are too easy are in the “comfort zone.” You already know them. Working in the learning zone stretches you. When you master a skill, move to a new one.
But here is the challenge. Top-performers practice for 10,000 hours during a period of about 10 years. That’s a long time. But if you start young, you can carefully schedule your practice. A good schedule helps you avoid overwork. You can seek the help of expert coaches. And you can enjoy many chances to perform. But the most important thing is practice. Here is a simple formula. 3 x 365 x 10 = Genius. That is, if you practice an average of 3 hours every day for 10 years, you too can be come a genius.
References: Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin. The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance, by Ericsson et al.
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