In the nature vs. nurture debate, researchers have declared nurture the winner. People who excel are the ones who work the hardest; it takes ten+ years of deliberate practice to become an expert. Deliberate practice is not about putting in hours, it’s about working to improve performance. It does not mean doing what you are good at; it means challenging yourself under the guidance of a teacher.
Deliberate Practice—activity that's explicitly intended to improve performance, that reaches for objectives just beyond one's level of competence, provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition.
- The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. "Individual differences, even among elite performers, are closely related to assessed amounts of deliberate practice. Many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of 10 years."
- The Rigorous Application of Deliberate Practice Methods in Skills Courses. “The push for action is sometimes powerful…. But unless one has the opportunity to think about what one is doing and to reflect on what went well, what went poorly, and why, the chances for a long-term improvement curve are slight."
- What it takes to be great. "Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work."
- Feedback needs to be immediate.
- Identify the skill to be improved.
- A coach is needed to help identify problems and direct the practice.
- Regular and intensive practice.
- Don't do what is easy. Practice the things that are difficult and challenging.
Greatness isn't reserved for a preordained few but available to everyone, like the pursuit of happiness, while being restricted to those who put in the work year after year.