As a child my mother wanted me to take piano lessons.  I wasn’t crazy about the idea but I didn’t have a choice, both my sister and I were expected to take lessons.  As with learning any new skill, taking the lesson is one thing, practicing so the lesson sinks in is another.  Any skill is learned through deliberate practice.  Despite many reminders from my mom that practice makes perfect, I didn’t practice between lessons and my parents eventually allowed me to quit (and save them money).

The term “deliberate practice” was coined by Anders Ericsson, a researcher at Florida State University in the early 90’s.  It is based on the rule that it takes ten thousand hours to become a master at any particular skill.  The ten thousand hour rule suggests that great expertise is less about natural talent and more about immense and frequent practice to master the basics.  And, it isn’t just practicing, it involves the following:

  1. Stretching yourself beyond your current ability
  2. Receiving immediate feedback from an expert on how you can improve
  3. Incorporating the feedback from the expert and continuing to practice until you have reached another level of skill, and then another, and then another, etc.

If you look at the schedule of any expert such as a professional athlete, you will see they have systematically been stretching themselves to develop skill and ability for years with ongoing feedback from their coach.

In your work today, what skill would you like to develop?   If you were intentional about dedicating time and energy to grow in area that could leverage your leadership, what would it be?  What aspect of conflict management would you like to improve?  Being a better listener?  Not interrupting when another person is speaking?  Remove blame and judgment of others when things don’t go your way?  Imagine if you had this skill set, how it would better serve your employees and clients?

My deliberate practice is learning the technology behind offering online webinars.  It is requiring a concerted effort and focus beyond my comfort zone yet unlike taking piano lessons, I am committed to practice!

Leave a message letting me know what deliberate practice you are working on.

Make the conscious choice to develop your skill set through deliberate practice and you will add valuable expertise to your employees and clients!