Productivity Thomson Reuters

Deliberate Practice

August 19, 2015
performance and productivity quote

“If you just show up and work hard, youโ€™ll soon hit a performance plateau beyond which you fail to get any better.” – Cal Newport
Deliberate Practice is one of the most important concepts in Cal Newport’s book, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.”

Deliberate Practice is what separates amateurs from professionals, and key to avoiding a career plateau.

My college literature professor Lindsey Tucker described a career plateau perfectly:ย โ€œJust because thereโ€™s a continuation doesnโ€™t mean there isnโ€™t stagnation.โ€

In other words: It is possible to do the same thing for years and never gain meaningful expertise.

This is one of the reasons why “years of experience”ย is a stupid job posting criterion.

The Comfort of Mediocrity

Amateurs stay in their comfort zone.

  • The mediocre karaoke singer does not spend time practicing difficult songs.
  • The weekend basketball player does not do repetitive drills.
  • The middling office worker waits for company-mandated training instead of proactively learning skills.

Deliberate Practice is a method of avoiding stagnation by systematically improving your skills.

This practice is all about stretching your limits beyond your comfort zone.

Deliberate Practice is remarkably similar to the concept of supercompensation in weight lifting: you gain muscle mass by systematically liftingย heavier weights each time.

Constant Learning is Key.

This is one of the reasons why I’m constantly taking on difficult projects and certification courses at work.

Many of my colleagues have a much easier life. However, they also don’t get promoted as quickly.

Deliberate Practice is exhausting, but much better than the alternative of stagnation. (Many CEOs and startup founders have already figured this out.)


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