Note: This post has been updated and incorporated into 10 Ways to Be a Better Learner – an essential read for the serious lifelong learner.
I’ll make this addition to the my “Better Learner” list a short one because I have already written about deliberate practice here before in “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall? 8 Keys to Deliberate Practice.” That has actually proven to be one of the more popular post on Mission to Learn, and has even grown in popularity over the past few months as more people become familiar with the concept of deliberate practice. (I suspect Dan Pink‘s bestseller Drive deserves at least some credit for this.)
The basic idea (which comes from the work of K. Anders Ericsson) is that not all practice is equal. As a result, two people putting in the same amount of time to acquire expertise may have dramatically different results. Deliberate practice is, well, deliberate – it involves not only repetition, but also feedback, reflection, and an intense focus on continuous improvement. I cover the keys to deliberate practice in more detail in my earlier post and also link to a great article on the topic. Depending on your interest level, you may also want to go straight to the source and get Ericsson’s article “The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance.” ($11.95)
The bottom line: learning anything – whether a body of knowledge, a skill, or a new habit or behavior – takes practice. That practice needs to be deliberate if you want to achieve true mastery – or even if you just want to get farther faster.
P.S. – Here are links to the other posts in this series: