How to Stop Being Mediocre And Gain Mastery With Deliberate Practice
When it comes to achieving greatness or becoming an expert in any given field, most people believe that they just have to put in the time. There is a popular notion that you need 10,000 working hours to achieve success or expertise in any field.
While it isn’t completely wrong, just putting in long working hours isn’t enough. If you’re just putting in the time, it’s like rote learning. You’re just doing the same thing over and over again.
What is deliberate practice, you ask?
Regular practice consists of mindless repetitions. But in deliberate practice, you practice with the purpose of improving your performance in a specific skill area.
Here are the six steps you can take to master any skill with deliberate practice and stop being mediocre:
1. Set Specific, Realistic Goals
In a 2012 talk, programmer and author Kathy Sierra explained that:
In deliberate practice, you work on a micro-skill (a tiny behavior) which takes one to three sessions to master. If it takes longer than that, then you’re working on something too complex.
Once you complete master this micro-skill, you move on to the next micro-skill which takes 1-3 session to master. Repeat this for 10,000 hours. This is deliberate practice.
Therefore, it’s important to work on very specific and realistic skill areas.
2. Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone
If you want to grow, you have to step into the unknown. You have to face uncomfortable situations, both in work and in life. You have to push yourself. Because only when you face challenges will your mental faculties be called upon and grow to new lengths.
Breaking out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean you have to do something out of the ordinary. It’s about stretching your comfort zone one step at a time. That’s how you stop being mediocre.
3. Seek Feedback
For you to improve at anything and stop being mediocre, first you need to know what you’re doing wrong. Whether it’s about general life situations or it is something related to your craft, you need feedback from experienced people.
As Elon Musk says, ‘Constantly seek criticism. A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold.’
4. Find Coaches and Mentors
If you want to grow and stop being mediocre, a great way is to learn from someone who is an expert in the field. When you spend time with good coaches or mentors, they make you learn much faster than you would do on your own.
A good coach will not only give you accurate feedback, they will also help you learn how to coach yourself. They will design your practice so that your skills grow, just as a fitness coach designs workouts and diet regimen.
5. Be Consistent
For you to stop being mediocre, it’s important that you are consistent in your practice. To develop consistency, you will have to work when you don’t want to. And that is what really counts because research shows that top performs “keep a similar practice regimen: short but intense, daily or semi-weekly solo practice sessions”.
6. Take Time to Rest
Psychologist K. Anders Anderson is a leading scholar of expert performance. His research shows that the top performers get significant benefits from napping.
Research shows that when the time for deliberate practice is more than two hours per day, the benefits start to decline. Therefore, it’s essential to restore your energy with sleep and a healthy diet so that you have enough fuel in your body to expend in deliberate practice.