A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post asking for someone to please enlighten me:
What specficially is “deliberate practice?” Like, down-and-dirty, roll up your sleeves, step-by-step, What Is It?
This much I know: "Deliberate Practice" feels much different from the trenches than it does when you’re just hearing about it as a concept.
I hit the “Publish” button on that post, and then I picked up Geoff Colvin’s book,Talent is Overrated, in he describes in precise detail, What Deliberate Practice Is and Isn’t:
“For starters, it isn’t what most of us do when we’re practicing.”
It’s an excellent book that I highly recommend for anyone trying improve at almost anything (i.e. school, sports, music, and even corporate America).
For now, I’ll leave you with a few quotes from the book that describe “deliberate practice” in the kind of detail I was looking for:
“…deliberate practice requires that one identify certain sharply defined elements of performance that need to be improved, and then work intently on them.”
“High repetition is the most important difference between deliberate practice of a task of performing and the task for real, when it counts.”
“Top performers repeat their practice activities to stultifying extent.”
Feedback is essential: “…practicing without feedback is like bowling through a curtain that hangs down to knee level.”
“It’s highly demanding mentally. Deliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration.”
“The work is so great that it seems no one can sustain it for very long. A finding that is remarkably consistent across disciplines is that four or five hours seems to be the upper limit of deliberate practice, and this is frequently accomplished in sessions lasting no more than an hour to ninety minutes.”
“It isn’t much fun…..Deliberate practice is not inherently enjoyable.”
“…great performers never allow themselves to reach the automatic, arrested-development state in their chosen field. …The essence of practice, which is constantly trying to do the things one can not do comfortably, makes automatic behavior impossible.”
There’s a lot more to say about this. To be continued…..
For now, I’m off to write more SAT questions. After reading the book, I’m further convinced that SAT question writing falls squarely in “deliberate practice” territory.
Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis