Deliberate Practice: The Secret of Greatness

There is a lot of talk these days about the concept of deliberate practice. It’s an idea that has been around for decades, but its popularity has really taken off as people are trying to figure out how they can get better at anything. The question remains: what exactly is deliberate practice and why should we be doing it?

The “secrets of greatness” is a book that discusses the importance of deliberate practice. The author, Jim Rohn, explains how people are able to achieve greatness by practicing their craft for many hours each day.

Vintage man playing piano in the room.

What makes a man great? What was it that made Ted Williams the best hitter in baseball history? What makes Shakespeare one of the greatest authors in history? How did Andrew Carnegie become one of the greatest businessmen in history?

The most common response is that brilliance is a product of birth. Nature bestows an intrinsic aptitude on a select few exceptional persons that permits them to thrive at what they do – Shakespeare was born with unrivaled literary ability, and Williams was born to swing a bat. You’re either born with talent and destined for success, or you’re born without skill and doomed for mediocrity, according to this viewpoint.

There is one little flaw in this concept of greatness: there isn’t much scientific evidence to support it.

In reality, research shows that brilliance and distinction are not “a result of intrinsic endowments [and skills].” Greatness, on the other hand, is the fruit of years and years of arduous, painful labor. Ted Williams spent hours hitting baseballs, while Carnegie spent his whole boyhood studying how to network and honing his eminent memory, abilities that would propel him to the position of unfathomably rich captain of industry.

Young prodigies succeed, according to studies, not because of some mysterious intrinsic aptitude, but because of plain hustling. At the age of 21, Mozart composed his first masterpiece. That’s a really early age. However, many people overlook the fact that he had spent the preceding 18 years of his life learning music under his father’s supervision. Since he was three years old, Mozart had been paying his dues, and it had paid off handsomely.

In other words, great men are not born; they are created via a period of purposeful effort.

What Is Deliberate Practice, and How Does It Work?

Geoff Colvin, the editor of Fortune Magazine, emphasizes current research that prove that brilliance can be achieved by any man, in any area, via the process of purposeful practice in his book Talent is Overrated. How does one go about practicing consciously? Colvin provides five qualities that enable a man to intentionally practice and attain greatness.

1. Deliberate practice is a kind of practice that is done with the guidance of an instructor in order to enhance performance. The majority of individuals practice by mindlessly doing an activity over and over again with no clear aim in mind. Consider the case of a guy who wishes to enhance his golf game. If he’s like most guys, he’ll just go to the driving range and hit a few buckets of balls without considering how he may enhance his swing. This dude hasn’t improved in any way after 300 balls. In fact, it’s possible that he’s become worse.

Deliberate practice, on the other hand, is planned with specific aims in mind. Top performers break down their expertise into clearly defined pieces when they practice. A great performer will focus on the thing they need to improve the most after breaking down a skill into components. They concentrate entirely on that one area during the whole exercise.


Consider the sport of golf once again. Instead of blindly hitting golf balls at the driving range, break down your golf swing into separate aspects such as body alignment, club-face alignment, grip, back swing, down swing, and so on. Go to the range and spend an hour concentrating on just one of those factors after breaking down your golf swing into distinct sections. Continue to focus on that one aspect until you’ve made progress, then move on to the next.

It takes time to gain the ability to conduct practice sessions in this methodical manner. That’s why having an instructor assist you in planning your practice sessions may be quite beneficial. They have the knowledge and experience to break down your talent into its component parts. Teachers can also see you in ways you can’t see yourself, allowing them to steer you to the areas where you need to improve the most.

Many men, however, believe that they have outgrown the need for instructors or coaches. We believe that asking for aid is a show of weakness. Asking for assistance, on the other hand, will only make you stronger and better. There’s a reason that the finest golfers in the world retain instructors and the most successful businesspeople seek mentorship throughout their careers. They recognize the value of a second set of eyes and ears in their own development. Allowing your macho pride to come in the way of your accomplishment is not a good idea. Continue to be modest and hungry.

2. The practice exercise may be done on a regular basis. Years of practice are spent by the world’s best performers. Ted Williams, baseball’s best hitter, would practice hitting balls until his hands were bleeding. Pistol Pete Maravich, a basketball star, would practice shooting from a precise place on the floor until the gym closed at night on Saturday mornings. To be the best, you must devote the necessary time. In fact, if you want to be an expert in your profession, you’ll need to practice for at least 10,000 hours or ten years.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell outlines a psychological experiment conducted in the 1990s to determine what factors contributed to the development of world-class musicians. Anders Ericsson, a psychologist, visited Berlin’s Academy of Music and categorized the students into three categories: stars, “excellent” performers, and those who were unlikely to ever play professionally and would most likely become music instructors. They were all given the same question: “How many hours have you practiced since you first picked up a violin throughout the years?”

All of the violinists began playing at the age of five, and for the first several years, they practiced roughly two or three hours each week. However, by the age of eight, a significant difference in the number of hours they spent practicing started to appear. By the age of 20, the group’s stars had put in a total of 10,000 hours of practice; the “excellent” students had put in 8,000 hours, and the future music instructors had put in little over 4,000 hours.


In their research of world-class chess players, Nobel Laureates Herbert Simon and William Chase discovered comparable findings. They discovered that no one seems to make it to the top of the chess world without at least ten years of dedicated study and practice. The “ten-year rule” applies to all fields. Top musicians, sportsmen, scientists, and novelists don’t reach the pinnacle of their profession until they’ve put in 10 years of effort and hard work.

There are no quick fixes when it comes to achieving success. If you really want to be the greatest guy you can be, you’ll have to put in years of practice.

3. Continuous feedback is provided through the practice exercise. It is critical to get continuous feedback in order to improve. To determine if the way you’re doing things is working or whether you need to alter things up to better, you need to see the consequences of your efforts. Furthermore, if you don’t get feedback during practice, you’re more likely to lose interest. Stop and seek for feedback often throughout your practice sessions. Getting feedback on certain activities is simple. If you’re practicing your basketball jump shot, for example, and the ball goes through the net every time, you’re on the correct route. If you’re missing every shot, it’s a sign that you need to switch things up.

For actions that need a subjective review, you may have a harder difficulty gaining feedback. This form of activity includes things like music, speaking, and job interviews. It’s a good idea to seek the advice of a third party or a mentor for initiatives like these.

4. Whether it’s completely physical or mental, deliberate practice is extremely hard. This characteristic distinguishes intentional from thoughtless practice. When you practice purposefully, you focus and concentrate so intensely on your performance that you get mentally weary at the end of the session. Deliberate practice is so intellectually taxing that studies reveal that “the maximum limit of deliberate practice is four or five hours a day, and this is typically done in periods lasting no more than an hour to ninety minutes.”

In fact, high performers who intentionally practice report needing more sleep than their less gifted peers. In the above-mentioned Berlin Academy of Music study, psychologist Anders Ericsson examined the three groups of performers — stars, good performers, and music teachers — and discovered that those in the top two groups slept 8.6 hours per day on average, nearly an hour more than those in the music teacher group, who slept 7.8 hours on average. In comparison to the bottom group, the top group slept more at night and slept more during the day. According to Ericsson, the research indicates that elite achievers work harder than the rest of us but also need longer mental recovery time.

As a result, asking yourself how you feel after a practice session is a smart approach to see whether you’re in the purposeful practice zone. If you’re completely exhausted after just an hour of practice, it’s likely that you did it on purpose.


5. Deliberate practice isn’t really enjoyable. Most individuals dislike doing things they aren’t very good at. It’s not enjoyable to keep failing and getting feedback on how you can better. No one enjoys being humiliated in this way. We like to accomplish things at which we excel because success is pleasurable and boosts our egos. Deliberate practice, on the other hand, is meant to concentrate on the things you’re bad at and demands you to repeat the process until you’re mentally weary. What a snoozer.

Dr. Ericsson, on the other hand, believes that in order to practice purposefully, practice periods must seem like drudgery. What distinguishes great men from average ones is their skill and determination to plow through this “dead labor.” “If football was simple, everyone would play,” my high school football coach used to say. Deliberate practice is the same way. Everyone would do it and be outstanding at anything they attempted if it was enjoyable and simple. But purposeful practice isn’t pleasant, which is why there are only a few great men in the world and hundreds of millions of men who want to be great.

Please don’t get the wrong impression. These findings do not imply that if you spend a lot of time consciously practicing a skill, you will become a master at it. No amount of practice will enable you to slam dunk like Michael Jordan if you’re 4’5′′. These findings show that we are not as constrained by our innate abilities as we frequently believe.

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The “what it takes to be great article” is a great article about deliberate practice. It discusses the importance of practicing and how this can help you become better at something.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 5 principles of deliberate practice?

1) Deliberate practice requires a teacher or coach to provide feedback and guidance.
2) A student must be motivated in order to invest effort into deliberate practice.
3) Students should try new things that they do not know how well they will perform initially, which creates uncertainty about success and failure.
4) The more difficult something is, the greater the need for investment of time and energy during practice sessions into overcoming an obstacle or achieving mastery over it. 5) Practice does not always have to happen with direct instruction from another person – students can also engage in self-directed learning by reading books or watching videos related to playing their instrument, sport etc., as well as thinking through what strategies might work best so that progress is meted out gradually without getting discouraged too quickly

What are the 4 parts of deliberate practice?

A: Deliberate practice is a skill-building process that makes deliberate, goal-driven efforts to improve performance. It requires working on specific aspects of ones skills while ignoring everything else in the environment. The 4 parts are as follows:

What is the concept of deliberate practice?

A: Practicing with a deliberate focus on specific goals, and not allowing yourself to become complacent in your practice.

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