Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Deliberate Practice and Successful People

 Water The Bamboo: Unleashing The Potential Of Teams And Individuals

I was going to write on an entirely different topic today, but I came across a book at the 61 Mile Yardsale entitled Water the Bamboo: Unleashing the Potential of Teams and Individuals by Greg Bell.  I picked up the slender paperback with the attractive cover on Friday, but on Monday, I randomly opened it to see if it were something I wanted to read that day, and I came across the name Ericsson (the same from Ericsson from Gladwell's Outliers), the words "deliberate practice," the Ten-Year Rule (or according to Outliers, the 10,000-hour one), and the belief that successful people are born, not made (Bell 101-102).

As I'm not one to ignore serendipitous nudges such as these, today's topic will expand on my last one about it taking 10,000 hours to becoming a star in the writing field--or a master, as Bell's book entitles such people.  Commentors on my last post had heard of this theory, and they brought up the very important point that isn't just practice, but deliberate practice that is the foundation beneath the 10,000-hours/10-years rule.  Deliberate practice is systematic, "designed to improve performance.  It pushes you beyond your comfort zone, provides feedback on outcomes, and involves lots of repetition" (Bell 101).  But this practice is not just sheer repetition.  Rather, it involves "working on an aspect of the skill you want that's a little bit outside of what you already know" (102).  In other words, it is pushing yourself and your boundaries, deliberately and steadily.

How can you do this?  Well, Water the Bamboo brings up three ways.  They include putting in the hours of deliberate practice, practicing on something outside your comfort zone, and working with a coach who mastered the skills you want and who can give you specific feedback on how to improve (Bell 102).

This isn't exactly new to writers.  After all, haven't published writers, agents, editors, and et al. been saying to keep working on your skills to grow them?  To push outside your comfort zones?  To get outside opinions on your work?

But what do you think on all this?  About the nature of success?  About pushing yourself?  About feedback?  And if you do agree with some of this idea, what do you do for deliberate practice?  What areas are you pushing at?  What are you doing with your feedback?

Cite: Bell, Greg. Water the Bamboo: Unleashing the Potential of Teams and Individuals. Portland: Three Star Publishing, 2009.  Print.


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