Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

It's not enough just to practice something for a sheer number of hours, says Daniel Goleman. You have to do it in a smart way.

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The “10,000-hour rule”—that this level of practice holds the secret to great success in any field—has become sacrosanct gospel, echoed on websites and recited as litany in high-performance workshops. The problem: it’s only half-true.

Ten thousand hours of practice may or may not bring you to the top of your game, and the reason is this: if you are a so-so golfer and you have a so-so golf stroke and you practice that golf stroke in a so-so way, in 10,000 hours you are still going to have the same poor golf stroke.

A psychologist named Dr. Anders Ericsson from Florida State University came up with the 10,000-hour rule. He first discovered it with violinists. He found that the first violin had practiced 10,000 hours, second violin 7,500 hours, and so on.

However, he also said that it’s not enough just to practice that sheer number of hours; you have to do it in a smart way. The smart way is to have an expert eye, a coach, look at how you perform and give you feedback on what you should practice next to improve. This is what a really fantastic…