By Ando Fallshaw | Taxi drivers might practise all day, but let’s be honest, they’re generally terrible drivers. Doctors write scripts and notes all day, however the more they write, it seems the worse the writing becomes.

Unfortunately, just doing stuff is not enough to get better at it. It has to be more targeted than that. Enter Mr Ericsson and his university researchers. By looking at loads of world champions and productive geniuses, Ericsson has boiled the ‘improvement ingredients’ down to 3 elements, which he says result in ‘deliberate practice’ (a good thing). These are:

  • Setting specific goals
  • Obtaining immediate feedback
  • Concentrating on the technique as much as on the outcome.

The researchers have also concluded that you will need to practive this about 10,000 hours to become an expert, however it is good to know that you can get benefits in a lot less time than 10,000 hours. Here’s some ideas about implementing these element.

Want more money? Then start with the skills that help you at work. Write down the 3 core skills that could get you promoted, and then work out how you could improve at them (YouTube and Google work great).
Do you take photos? A digital camera lets you ‘obtain immediate feedback’, so you should utilise that. As soon as you’ve taken a shot, have a look at it on the display, and see if there is something you could have improved with the shot. Retake it right away with those improvements (if their smiles will last that long).
Do you ride a bike? Get your frame set up properly, read a little about cadence and technique (Google and YouTube again), and you’ll then be training all the right muscles in the right way, so grannies will no longer be so fast at overtaking you.

Imagine how good we will get at our daily rituals if people started paying a little attention to them, and perfecting practise.

Further reading:

Ericsson’s research has been covered by several authors, with perhaps the best known (and most easily digested) being Malcolm Gladwell. Outliers is a compelling read, which should give you some more perspective on deliberate practise [HERE].

If you’d like one a little more from left field, try The Inner Game Of Tennis (1972). It’s a cracking read, that talks about the power of visualisation in improvement. It’s since been adapted to every other game we play, but the original feels the most authentic [HERE]