Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Power of 10,000 hours - Part 2

In our last post, we discussed the Power of 10,000 hours and created a very optimistic outlook for our businesses. All we have to do is spend 10,000 hours doing something and we will become experts in it and our businesses will have competitive advantages.
Now we will come back down to earth.
Ultimately, it comes down to work. Ten thousand hours of it, in fact.
But not just any kind of work - if we are to become experts, the 10,000 hours must be spent in what is called “Deliberate Practice”. Following are the things we need to do according to noted expertise researcher K. Anders Ericsson as discussed in his Harvard Business Review article:
We work on things we cannot yet do
 “When most people practice, they focus on the things they already know how to do. Deliberate practice is different. It entails considerable, specific, and sustained efforts to do something you can’t do well—or even at all. Research across domains shows that it is only by working at what you can’t do that you turn into the expert you want to become.”
We must concentrate really hard
“Deliberate practice involves two kinds of learning: improving the skills you already have and extending the reach and range of your skills. The enormous concentration required to undertake these twin tasks limits the amount of time you can spend doing them.”
We must think really hard
“Genuine experts not only practice deliberately but also think deliberately… We’ve observed that when a course of action doesn’t work out as expected, the expert players will go back to their prior analysis to assess where they went wrong and how to avoid future errors. They continually work to eliminate their weaknesses.”
It requires motivation and willingness to tolerate pain (see earlier blog)
“Moving outside your traditional comfort zone of achievement requires substantial motivation and sacrifice, but it’s a necessary discipline. As the golf champion Sam Snead once put it, ‘It is only human nature to want to practice what you can already do well, since it’s a hell of a lot less work and a hell of a lot more fun.’”
We Can’t Do It Alone
“Research…has shown that future experts need different kinds of teachers at different stages of their development. In the beginning, most are coached by local teachers, people who can give generously of their time and praise. Later on, however, it is essential that performers seek out more advanced teachers to keep improving their skills. Eventually, all top performers work closely with teachers who have themselves reached international levels of achievement.”
This has serious work implications, which we will discuss tomorrow….
I would love to hear your thoughts about developing expertise or your stories on this topic if you have them.
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  1. Not knowing what we do not know can be a major deterrence to growth in any field. Many people try to overcome this through passive learning or trial and error. But, little has not been tried before and actively seeking knowledge from many sources could give you the tools you need before you need them.

    Very nice post David.

  2. Maddie,

    Thank you for the comments! I agree with you when you say "little has not been tried before",
    what we need is out there, it is simply up to us to find it.

    The "tools you need before you need them" makes me remember my rebellious days in school - "I'm never going to need this geometry, or chemistry, or whatever" - believing something different back then would have made things a little easier now.

    But then again, I wouldn't have learned this lession then, would I?

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