The best book I read in 2009 was The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. And now I’m reading his follow up book called The Little Book of Talent – 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills.
One of the things I love about these books is that mastery isn’t left to genes, chance or fate. That it is within our hands to develop the skills and abilities in those areas of life we love the most.
The Talent Code was one of several books published around 2009 which outlined the idea that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice would result in world class aptitude. Deliberate practice refers to the specific type of practice where tiny, incremental improvements are made over years.
Look to any great performer, athlete, or artist, and you’ll find a person who spent hours and hours practicing and improving their skills. Many of us mere mortals forget that one round of golf per week and a couple of buckets of balls hit on the driving range simply cannot compare to the two buckets of balls a pro hits for every club in their bag, almost every day of the year. And they don’t hit those buckets of balls by rote. Rather, they are constantly honing their skills as they go.
Who are the hockey players who are first to the rink, and the last to leave? Who plays piano for another hour after the lesson is over? Who goes beyond the curriculum at school and starts learning Mandarin Chinese because it’s not offered at the time? Who saves that little bit more each month for their future?
When we do what everybody else does, we will likely end up with the results everyone else gets. If we want different results, the opportunity exists for us to put in more time and effort. We can practice the fundamentals of our craft a little more, and fine tune our skills, instead of being a victim of circumstances.
Next time we’ll explore this idea of practice a little further…