Life-Craft through 10,000


There is little doubt installing routines might be one of the most important things we can do to see potential changes emerge into reality. As a coach I help people think about what it means for them to show up with an epic life and to take seriously they are the co-creators of a life that really makes history.

As a dad I am trying to help my kids think about what they are going to engage as their life-craft, their dent making contribution to the world. We are currently conversing about where they are going to spend their 10,000...that is their 10,000 hours toward mastery!

Someone recently said to me “practice makes habit.”  I am so thankful for her statement and that SHE DIDN’T say ‘practice makes perfect!”  Because that latter phrase is patently false….more on that in a moment.

My recent conversation with my brilliant and equally beautiful 22 year old daughter (an early graduate with a degree in Entrepreneurship from Columbia in Chicago and certified yogi from the Chopra Center in San Diego)  was around what she really wanted to contribute, where she wanted to show up world-class, what and how she wanted to leave an epic mark with her life.  I shared with her Anders Ericsson’s seminal research on 10,000 hours.  

(let me do the math...that is roughly 4 hours a day 5 days a week for 10 years)

While Malcolm Gladwell popularized Ericsson’s research there are actually several other books that have explained the practical implications of his work much better.*  What the research shows is that 100% of the time apparent genius isn’t the divine gift dropped from above that we all think it is.  

Genius theory, as it is often called, says that the talent gods have gifted genius, ultra performance and uber abilities on certain lucky individuals.  But research has exploded the genius theory myth.

What the research has shown is that perceived brilliance, wicked smarts or crazy talent aren't divinely dispensed but CREATED through perfecting certain practices!

Or to say it the way the research says it, deliberate practice is what creates world class performance whether we are talking about golf swings or paintings, poetry or musical composing.  The research bears out that 100% of the time repetitive exposure at the magnitude of 10,000 hours coupled with deliberate practice can create world class best practice epic performance!

The implications of this little discovery are staggering.

1. No one can hide behind the genius theory any more.  

In short, I can’t and you can’t say, “well hey I just wasn’t dealt the right hand.  They got the goods, I simply didn’t!”  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that.  Well we can’t use that one any more.

2. The second and brighter implication is, that with the right sort of practice, you can vastly improve!  

Even if you don’t care about world class performance, and that is probably realistically most of us, your ability to perform at dramatically higher levels is certainly within reach.

So to return to the phrase used earlier that "Practice makes Habit," never a truer phrase uttered.  That practice makes perfect…never a more false statement made.  Practice ingrains, it embeds.  Practice creates muscle memory along with neural networks and neurobiology to create automatic pathways.  But if the practice is ingraining flaws in the golf swing, or missteps in the ballet routine, or the wrong third note in the arpeggio, then practice is embedding an imperfect product and making it more and more difficult with time to overcome.

Practice doesn’t and can’t make perfect but perfect practice can make perfect and that is what the research proves. Deliberate practice is THE key with 10,000 hours that leads to world class.  And even if not world class, at the very least Wildly Better!

What are you going to invest in deliberate practice to become Wildly Better?

* Focus - Daniel Golman, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else -  Geoff Colvin, The Talent Code - Daniel Coyle