Why practice mindfully? Why drill slowly and carefully? This is from David Shenk's The Genius in All of Us.
"For those on their way to greatness [in intellectual or physical endeavors], several themes regarding practice consistently come to light:
"Across the board, these last two variables - practice style and
practice time - emerged as universal and critical. From Scrabble players
to dart players to soccer players to violin players, it was observed that
the uppermost achievers not only spent significantly more time in solitary
study and drills, but also exhibited a consistent (and persistent) style
of preparation that K. Anders Ericsson came to call 'deliberate practice.'
First introduced in a 1993 Psychological Review article, the notion of
deliberate practice went far beyond the simple idea of hard work. It conveyed
a method of continual skill improvement. 'Deliberate practice is a very
special form of activity that differs from mere experience and mindless
drill,' explains Ericsson. 'Unlike playful
"In other words, it is practice that doesn't take no for an answer; practice that perseveres; the type of practice where the individual keeps raising the bar of what he or she considers success. ...
"[Take] Eleanor Maguire's 1999 brain scans of London cabbies, which revealed greatly enlarged representation in the brain region that controls spatial awareness. The same holds for any specific task being honed; the relevant brain regions adapt accordingly. ...
"[This type of practice] requires a constant self-critique, a pathological restlessness, a passion to aim consistently just beyond one's capability so that daily disappointment and failure is actually desired, and a never-ending resolve to dust oneself off and try again and again and again. ...
"The physiology of this process also requires extraordinary amounts of elapsed time - not just hours and hours of deliberate practice each day, Ericsson found, but also thousands of hours over the course of many years. Interestingly, a number of separate studies have turned up the same common number, concluding that truly outstanding skill in any domain is rarely achieved in less than ten thousand hours of practice over ten years' time (which comes to an average of three hours per day). From sublime pianists to unusually profound physicists, researchers have been very hard-pressed to find any examples of truly extraordinary performers in any field who reached the top of their game before that ten-thousand-hour mark."
Author: David Shenk
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