Sunday, May 14


Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, authors of Freakonomics, attempt to explain why there are more elite soccer players born in the earlier months of the year. It really doesn't have anything to do with certain astrological signs being more adept at the sport, but had more to do with the concept of "deliberate practice:"
Deliberate practice is more than simply repeating a task — playing a C-minor scale 100 times, for instance, or hitting tennis serves until your shoulder pops out of its socket. Rather, it involves setting specific goals, obtaining immediate feedback and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.
Translated into layman's terms, deliberate practice is that cliche that our parents used to tell us: Practice makes perfect. This is collaborated by Anders Ericsson's findings in the "Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance," which asserts that that good performance in a field didn't really have anything to do with talent, but with the hours poured in dedicated practice.

Ericsson is part of a loose coation of scholars who form the Expert Performance Movement, whose primary goal is to attempt to answer an important and seemingly primordial question: When someone is very good at a given thing, what is it that actually makes him good? They've studied expert performers in a wide variety of pursuits, including sports, surgery, scrabble, violin playing, writing, stock picking, playing darts.

Their findings don't necessarily mean that everyone is made equal. There are individuals who are more adept in certain things, like say, Manny Pacquiao's ability to throw a punch. Without ever stepping in a boxing ring, he could probably still throw a mean one. But he became the Manny Pacquiao that we know precisely because of the hours deliberate practice in the gym.

Now if only we convince ourselves to do the things that we really have to do. But avoiding practice is much more fun than actually practicing, isn't it?

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