The gold standard for deliberate practice, according to Anders Ericsson, author of Peak, and the original researcher behind the science of expertise, is found following a very specific structure and order. Our son, Taylor, loves all of this and is currently applying this process to his pursuit of personal fitness. Deliberate practice is all about getting the most out of your training. Deliberate practice is the gold standard for building mastery. Ericsson wrote a beauty worth deliberating reading, ruminating, and applying in your real world. Here are his 7 steps with a BTL twist.
1. Deliberate practice develops skills that have long been established as foundational for mastery. For instance, if your aim is mastering the point guard position in basketball, you’ve got to develop an amazing cross over dribble while keeping your head up and seeing the court. If your aim is sales mastery, you must practice listening to find the hidden need, desire, or problem to solve. Fact.
2. Deliberate practice take place outside the comfort zone and requires the participant to practice stuff just beyond their reach. This demands near maximum effort and is not particularly enjoyable in the moment. At BTL we identify this attempt as just this side of chaos. We coach our clients to try stuff that makes them uncomfortable and feels like it might induce panic. We role play difficult conversations, for example, to practice nobody’s favorite PA – resolving gridlocked conflict. Are you, leader, mastering this?
3. Deliberate practice aims at specific goals, not vague keep getting better kinda bullshit. We chunk out the gains through a series of small, incremental gains.
4. Deliberate practice is, well, deliberate. The participant must fully engage with all attention. The participant cannot simply follow the coaches path, they have to consciously choose and adjust along the way. For instance, the BTL builder offers a framework of building inner strength (BTL core) and clarity of outer aim (OPUS). The deliberate practice of writing and rinsing must be deliberate and fully engaging or it’s just bullshit that sounds like good stuff. It’s not.
5. Deliberate practice involves feedback, lots of feedback, from the work and from a virtuous coach/builder. Feedback is worthless unless the participant uses it, makes minor adjustments, monitors results, and learns to do this on their own in between formal practices. Our best clients practice in between BTL practices like banchees. Most just show up for the stuff that’s scheduled. Masters learn the most, remember, when they’re a lone. There’s some feedback for you…
6. Deliberate practice depends on effective mental representations. In other words, when you watch Jason Day close his eyes before he prepares to swing, or Justin Rose rehearse that strange practice swing, they are both using mental representatives to prepare themselves right before they perform. We teach our clients to extrapolate this learning to their craft. One of the best ways to build stronger mental representation for whatever you’re working on is to visualize the speech, conversation, design, or cross over dribble, right before you go to sleep. The brain loves it when we slip into sleep thinking about a visual rep of something we want to master. I do this all the time and find oftentimes I awake with some crazy mental acuity around my rep. Practice this, please.
7. Lastly, deliberate practice always involves what we call “marrying the mundane.” You’ve got skills but you aren’t satisfied. You deliberately identify baby steps and keep popping them out when most folks have long gone on. Deliberate practice is not about going for some pre-prescribed number of hours (10,000 hours, for instance, is a myth), or some pre-prescribed number of reps. Deliberate practice is a lifestyle, kinda like my latest re-read of Peak – it won’t be my last. Masters, remember, keep working.
Of course, deliberate practice is pure drudgery if it’s not your idea. Do not start doing bullshit because someone else is selling you, pushing you, prodding you, or making you think you have to. Nobody sticks to stuff they have to do. Dream and do, friend. Dream and do. Build a strong sense of self (live your freakin’ BTL core). Author an OPUS (your labor of love) that lights your fire. Now, once you’re clear within and with your aim, begin the deliberate practice of PA, PA, and more PA (productive action). Remember, most PA is just a baby step. So, friend, keep telling yourself stuff like “you got this. You are becoming the gold standard and you are beginning to believe it. You are golden and yet, somehow, can’t wait to keep working. Keep working. Keep working. Keep working.”
The next practice, friend, it’s gonna be that much closer to gold – The gold standard, that is. The gold standard. Good….