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How to Be the Top 10% No Matter What You Do

How to Be the Top 10% No Matter What You Do

90% of people look for instant formulae to success, not realizing that when it comes to the path of success, there are no shortcuts. Hard work, a dedicated perseverance towards a goal and regular skill practice is what would get you there. You may be intensely talented but to actually reach the peaks, you need to hone that talent by sheer practice, and by deliberate practice. [1]

Be you a sports fan or golf aficionado or not, you must have heard of Ben Hogan’s impeccable record and his surgeon-like precision of a golf swing, and he did this by breaking down the game of gold into small parts – each of which he analyzed and repeatedly practiced till he achieved ultimate mastery. That is the art of deliberate practice.

As Ben Hogan so rightly remarked, “As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” We all must ensure we make it a good round…

Deliberate Practice: Identify Your Weaknesses First

The key to deliberate practice is simple and follows the same pattern, till the time success is reached. The first step is to break the overall process down into parts, the second is to identify your weaknesses, the third is to test new strategies for each section, and finally the fourth step is to integrate your learning into the overall process. The fifth step is to repeat! [2]

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Most people look for immediate results based on nothing more than the human process of natural growth. But for our growth to be deliberate, our practice has to be equally deliberate too! So the key to how to be successful, is a mastering of your skill set.

Think about it this way, if you ever started out by following your heart, and learning a new skill, say dancing – were you able to master it by merely assuming you would? No, right? You’d have to practice your moves, consult a teacher, get to know and then work on correcting your mistakes in theory as well as in practice and then probably do it all over again till you are able to master the moves, the posture, the expression and finally, the body language!

How Deliberate Practice Leads to Great Achievements

Remember that deliberate practice is not putting in some extra time at work or working 60-80 hours weeks. Deliberate practice is when you focus on just one aspect of your work and then start to improve upon that – deliberately and repeatedly, no matter how much time it takes, and that is the most important aspect to how to be successful. Here are a few examples of deliberate practice that famous, and successful people have employed to make themselves better at what they do.

Mozart’s 10 Years of Silence

John Hayes, a cognitive psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, wanted to know that how much practice it took, in terms of time, before you could produce a masterpiece. So he studied over 500 music pieces composed by 76 different composers and discovered that it took all at least ten years of solid practice before they were able to churn out a masterpiece in music – including Mozart. [3]

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Kobe Bryant’s 800 Shoots

A story pretty well known in sports circle is that of Kobe Bryant’s deliberate practice. As team trainer Robert recalls it after seeing it firsthand, “Kobe Bryant started his conditioning work around 4:30 am, continued to run and sprint until 6 am, lifted weights from 6 am to 7 am, and finally proceeded to make 800 jump shots between 7 am and 11 am. And then Team USA had practice!” For Kobe, his goal was 800 baskets, the time spent doing it was immaterial… For Kobe, his route to how to be successful was simple – to keep practicing.

A Decade of Practice Under The Masterchef

Jiro Ono is a chef and the owner of an award-winning sushi restaurant in Tokyo and his technique has been the subject of a documentary too. Jiro is no ordinary chef for he has dedicated his life to perfecting the art of making sushi. And he expects the same of his apprentices too if they want to work with him. In fact, each apprentice must master one tiny part of the sushi-making process at a time like how to wring a towel, how to use a knife, how to cut the fish! So much so that one apprentice trained under Jiro for ten years before being allowed to cook the eggs! [4]

As a professor of psychology at The Florida State University Anders Ericsson puts it, “the sole reason you aren’t a virtuoso violinist, or an Olympic athlete, or another kind of world-class performer, is that you haven’t engaged in a process called “deliberate practice”.”

Tips To Keep In Mind For Deliberate Practice

Stay Just A Little Above Your Abilities

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Think about it this way, you may know how to write a good page or an essay. To go a little above and beyond your current skills, try writing a short story or even a long-from article. Don’t try to go from 0 to 100 in 60 seconds – deliberate practice is not a race – it’s a journey that makes you reach your goal, the perfectionist’s way.

Stay Goal Oriented

Before you try to get better at something, you have to know what it is that you are trying to do. One good way to watch a master or an expert at work – then you have a goal in mind that this is the level of expertise you too want to reach.

Break It Down

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Rome, as they say, wasn’t built in a day – and neither will your mastery in a skill. Whenever you attempt something new or even try to get better at what you already “know” – break it down into smaller parts. Attempt it part by part and master the basics before you attempt the more convoluted parts.

Find A Good Teacher

We cannot be objective about ourselves so if we want to improve ourselves, we need a teacher, guide or friend who can point out our flaws, or missing gaps so that we can improve everywhere we lack. Get someone, be it your teacher or mentor to keep giving you feedback and remember to take criticism constructively. This is very important in you search in how to be successful.

Remember that if you truly want to better yourself and reach 100% proficiency in something, you have to keep trying and keep practicing without bothering about the time or the effort spent. And you have to be patient and persevering about it if you do want to rise above the average and truly master what you so desire to! [5]

Featured photo credit: Heisenberg Media via flickr.com

Reference

[1] James Clear: Beginners Guide To Deliberate Practice
[2] Mel Robbins : 5 Deliberate Steps To Master A Skill
[3] James Clear: Deliberate Practice
[4] A Learning A Day: Some Reflections On Jiro Dreams Of Sushi
[5] Mission To Learn: Deliberate Practice

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Reference

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