Practice Isn’t Fun
Sunday July 15, 2018
Ben Bergeron & Christine Bald
By now, most of us are familiar with the 10,000 Hours Rule—the principle that 10,000 hours of practice are needed to become world-class in any field.
But it’s not enough to just practice a lot. It’s a matter of how we practice. World class performers push themselves to the exact limit of their skillset and thus expand their abilities day after day. If we’re not constantly operating on the edges of our ability, we’re not improving. In psychology, this is known as deep practice.
Here’s the thing about deep practice—it’s not much fun.
Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable, and that’s the exact opposite of what deliberate practice demands. Instead of doing what what we’re good at, we insistently seek out what we’re not good at. Then we identify the painful, difficult activities that will make us better and do those things over and over. After each rep, we force ourselves to see (or get others to tell us) exactly what still isn’t right so we can repeat the most painful and difficult parts of what we’ve just done. We continue that process until we’re mentally and physically exhausted.
If it seems a bit depressing that the most important thing you can do to improve performance is no fun, take consolation in this fact: It has to be this way.
If the activities that lead to greatness were easy and fun, then everyone would do them and there would be no difference between the best and the rest.
This is actually good news. It means that most people won’t do it.
It means that greatness is a choice.
It means that it’s yours for the taking.