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Saturday, March 10, 2012

K Anders Ericsson and Deliberate Practice

We all want to be an expert in our given fields. Have you ever heard that practice makes perfect? Well, it turns out to be true. Sort of. It turns out that there is a large body of work describing the process to become an expert. A professor at Florida State University, K Anders Ericsson has spent a great deal of time analyzing experts in a wide variety of fields. Based on his findings, he has found that the most likely trait that determines an expert is daily deliberate practice over a period of years and decades. If you want to become an expert you need to work hard at it, but not just any practice will do.
Deliberate practice focuses on two things, improving skills you already possess and extending the reach and range of your skills. To do this effectively, you must perform this practice with intense concentration. Because of this intense concentration, the time you can spend doing so is limited. Often experts practice deliberately only two hours per day, but over time since they continually work to eliminate their weaknesses they continuously improve. If you focus and do the right kind of practice with regularity, you can sharpen nearly any skill. Two hours a day adds up to 700 hours a year and 7000 hours in a decade.
Deliberate practice requires that you constantly step outside your comfort zone. If you only practice what you are already good at, you will plateau very quickly and not improve. Only if you focus on what you aren't good at, and attempt to figure out how you can do better at it, will you succeed at becoming an expert.
For those interested more in Deliberate Practice, I have found an online copy of The Making of an Expert for your review. This article by Ericsson is definitely an eye opener, and Deliberate practice is a very important concept to keep in mind while on your path to expertise, Good Luck.

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