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Practice vs deliberate practice

Something that you hear often is practice makes it perfect. It is only partially true. Mindless repetition is not deliberate practice.

Yes, practice will help you do the exact thing you are practicing with perfection. That doesn’t mean that you are improving that skill.

Legends are not born with greatness. It is developed over time.

Sachin Tendulkar deliberate practice Sachin Tendulkar practicing his forward defence

Repetition and experience alone won’t make you an expert. This is why people from the same background, having the same education, starting the same career end up reaching different levels on the career ladder. Of course, there are other factors too, like luck.

The secret of practice is not the number of years it takes. But the fact that you do something different every time you practice.

This is where deliberate practice comes in. Deliberate practice is the act of repeating something, and doing it a bit differently, a bit better, every time.

How to deliberate practice?

We can follow a few things to improve the practice of practice.

Set a stretch goal

Start by setting a stretch goal. A goal you think is hard to achieve. Identify the skill you need to improve to reach that goal. There can be more than one skill that you need to improve.

For example, if you want to improve cooking, you’d want to improve the skill of cutting vegetables.

Ask for feedback

This is one of the most important aspects of deliberate practice. You should identify the weak aspect, focus on it.

The best way to get feedback and identify weaknesses is to work with people who have been there and done that. A good mentor can change your life.

I cannot emphasise the importance of having a good mentor enough. If you are someone with the grit to change the world, you should work with people who think alike.

What do you want to be in 5 years? Look at people who are already doing that. Try reaching out to them.

It is not fun to fail repeatedly and receive criticism. But that is the exact mindset you need for growth.

Focus on the weakness, reflect on actions.

Don’t automate behaviour. Learn and reflect on every action. Taking time to reflect, is very important. Do not fall into the trap of mindless repetitions, each repetition is supposed to become better.

Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest cricketers on the planet. When he was struggling in an Australian tour, he took the time to reflect on what is going wrong. In most games he was dismissed in a particular way. (Edging the ball on cover drives)

In his next innings he didn’t play a single cover drive and ended up scoring a double hundred.

Even the greatest learn from their weakness every day. In fact, that is what makes them great.

It is amazing what humans can do once we set the mind to it. Talent is overrated, and deliberate practice and grit will lead you to achieve what you want.


I suck at writing. I’m writing to learn. I want to keep writing until it doesn’t suck anymore. I would love to listen to your feedback. Please write to me at hey@sooraj.io if you have any.

Talent is overrated by Geoff Colvin

Grit by Angela Duckworth

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