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November 12, 2008


Wally Bock

Excellent description of deliberate practice. Since Colvin's book came out there have been many posts that ask the question you do: "How can we put this into practice at work?"

Deliberate practice, as you note, is a demanding habit. It is for people who want to become expert in a field or task. My observation is that only a small percentage of any group are willing to work hard to achieve excellence.

For those who are willing to make the commitment, the techniques are fairly easy to learn. But they don't guarantee excellent or expert performance. Talent is still in play. If it were not so, I would be an opera singer.


There is another book out by Malcolm Gladwell called "Outliers" that also delves into this subject. One of the things that was stated in the book is that it takes 10,000 hours of work to achieve mastery in any given subject. I would put it this way: It takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery of a given subject.

Ray Chang

Deliberate Practice, both words I don't like to hear and bring pain to my soul, but know I must come to accept and embrace.

Anyway, after reading and thinking with the knowledge that deliberate practice is boring (not fun) and highly demanding mentally, we could use all the help we can get - especially if we are going to commit to being the best at something.

Conducivity (not in the dictionary, but a situation that is conducive to deliberate practice) is what comes to mind over and over again. With deliberate practice, it appears we have to find any way to make it easier and for us to get a competitive edge over our laziness and over other people - that's why the world's best have private gyms, training centers, coaches, and places they can go for refuge.

Conducivity is the difference between helping the cause or hurting our cause for deliberate practice.

I often find that we need to find/create conducive contexts and conducive cultures.

Context simply refers to the way you feel when you are in a certain situation. Does the room lighting, color, 'feng shui,' noise levels help or hurt you in your attempt to attempt to better your abilities through focused discipline?

Also, as it was mentioned, it helps to have support, but I think we need more than support, we need a whole values structure makeover. I would be willing to bet that one of the reasons Asian economies out grew Latin American economies for so long were because of the work ethic (study habits) that were considered 'normal' in the respective regions. For example, the average 10 year old in South Korea after school, goes to at least 2 tutoring classes and then studies in a quiet room for 3 more hours. They have almost no life outside of studying and extracurricular activities. The average Panamanian 10 year old (I am here in the Peace Corps) has their homework done for them by their parents and either spend the rest of the time watching TV or hanging out aimlessly with their friends. It's the difference in what each 'culture' (personal and collective) values more. But it always helps to be in a collective culture that pushes us towards deliberate practice.

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I have this dream of one day running my family like a well-organized, stimulating boarding school. Each night after the kids go to bed, I'll lay out the fun and educational activities for the next day, prepare healthy meals and then have time for five miles on the treadmill, a bubble bath and an Ogilvie Home Perm.

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