In the past, people have always viewed talent as a huge thing, as though it means everything. What this means for people who weren’t born with the innate talent is “you are out of luck” and will never be great in that field. However, through many years of research from researchers and myself personally, I find innate talent to a very small significance in obtaining greatness. After reading the book, “Talent is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin, I finally understand the concept of ‘Deliberate Practice’ and know how to put it to use. It’s all about putting effort into something you are passionate about by doing it efficiently and effectively.
1. FOCUS. You must learn how to break things down into smaller pieces in order to focus on each aspect individually. For example, in Tennis or Badminton I break down my skills into 4 categories: Footwork, Techniques, Endurance, and Strategy. Within each category there would be sub-categories such as for footwork, there are moving to the left, right, forward, backward, forward left, forward right, backward left, and backward right. So in order to master my Footwork I would focus on each sub-category and practice it individually. This is the same for the other categories (Techniques, Endurance, and Strategy). After I break things down to master each one individually, I would put them all back to see how they work together. The power of focus is amazing and will get you very far, especially when you break things down into a science.
2. PLANNING. To be a master, you must plan everything ahead and set goals. You must plan on how you’re going to practice in order to achieve your goals for the day, week, month, and year. How many hours will you set a day or week to practice on what you want to achieve? Will you practice with your hands or with your mind? If you practice with your hands you’ll have to practice the whole day to achieve what you can achieve with only 2-3 hours of practice with your mind. Your planning should be very concise about what you’re going to practice each day on each area. For example, if you want to work on your endurance and your best time on a 2 mile was 14 minutes, then this time try to beat that by a few seconds.
3. CONSCIOUSNESS. During your practice you must be conscious of what you’re doing exactly. So if you’re running then be conscious of your steps, breathing, and how you feel. Are you taking steps too small or too big? If they’re off, then you need to fix it. Are you not breathing deep enough and exhale fully? You need to learn to control your breathing and build a good habit on how to breathe correctly when you run. If you weren’t conscious of it, then you wouldn’t know it wasn’t right and thus, you wouldn’t have fixed it. This is why being conscious of what you’re doing is crucial. As for techniques, if you’re aware of what you’re doing then you can fix your forms and make adjustments to improve your forms. Many people don’t pay attention to their techniques, which is why they’re so sloppy and they never become great. To become great, you must strive to improve every single area in your game and push yourself to the limits.
4. EVAULATION. After practice you must reflect on what you did, especially the most important aspects to the game. For the tennis/badminton example, maybe your footwork is very off. Thus, you must work on that the most the next time you practice. In addition to self-reflecting you must also have a mentor/coach to critique you on everything such what is good for now and what needs a lot more practice. Don’t let the constructive criticism get to you and be discouraged. Instead, use it as motivation and strive to overcome all your weaknesses while taking advantage of your strengths.
5. PERSERVERANCE. “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” This last step is extremely important. To become great, you not only have to practice with your mind and be intelligent about it, but you have to have the guts to keep going. Even when you plan everything perfectly, work on it as hard/smart as you can, and your mentor/coach says everything is good, you must seek to improve. It is not about achieving the goals, but rather, enjoying the process of constant improvement. If you seek to improve every time you practice, eventually you’ll become great. Researchers say that it takes a person a minimum of 10 years of daily deliberate practice to become great. And continuous improvement is a critical aspect of ‘deliberate practice.’ Therefore, you must have perseverance.