Monday, May 23, 2011
Mindset + Deliberate Practice= No Limits
Since my obsession with athletic development began in high school, I have repeatedly come across two names that everyone in the "talent" and motivational books seems to mention. The funny part is that these two people are research driven and don't train or coach athletes, which is not who I usually look to for coaching advice. However, their research and case studies have given ways to develop strategies and systems that can maximize potential of any skill or profession. These two people are Dr. Carol Dweck and Dr. Anders Ericsson. They each have dug deeply into a concept that are the building blocks of development, ability, and success. I fully believe that if you embrace and apply these two concepts that you can achieve almost anything you desire.
Dr. Carol Dweck- "Mindset"
If you read my blog consistently, you know I'm a die hard fan of Dweck's work. Her book Mindset is a must read that discusses the difference between a Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset. A Fixed Mindset is broadly defined as one who feels they have predetermined abilities, skills, and/or intelligence. This type of mindset believes improvement has a genetic ceiling. Growth Mindset is loosely defined as believing that anything and everything can be improved. Failure is looked at as apart of the process to finding a solution, rather than a result of your genetic predisposition.
Why is this important?
If you can name me one person who's gone through life without dealing failure, conflict, or challenges in their life, please let me know so I never have to have a conversation with them. Everyone comes across failures and problems. It's your decision whether to improve or to give up. Giving up is much easier and less work than the former, but improving has the advantage of making you a better person with more opportunities.
Dr. Anders Ericsson- "Deliberate Practice"
Dr. Ericsson has contributed so much to the world of athletics without even coaching or training a single athlete. His worked has helped figure out what the great ones in their respective fields have done compared to their counterparts. He discovered that the very best have practiced better and more than their competitors. Period.
If you don't believe me, go look at his article that describes research done in multiple fields including music, sports, and chess.
Ericsson defines deliberate practice as "a very special form of activity that differs from mere experience and mindless drills. Unlike playful engagement with peers, deliberate practice is not inherently enjoyable. It does not involve a mere execution or repetition of already attained skills but repeats attempts to reach beyond one's current level which is associated with FREQUENT FAILURES. Aspiring performers therefore concentrate on improving specific aspects by engaging in practice activities designed to change and refine particular mediating mechanisms, requiring problem solving a successive refinement with feedback."
David Shenk does another great job paraphrasing deliberate practice in his book The Genius in All of Us.
"Simply wanting it badly isn't enough. Deliberate practice requires a mindset of never, ever being satisfied with your current ability. It requires a constant self-critique, a pathological restlessness, a passion to aim consistently just beyond one's capability so that daily disappointment and failure is actually desired, and a never ending resolve to dust oneself off again and again and again" (pg. 55).
I couldn't say it any better.
Combining Dweck and Ericsson:
Looking at these two concepts, you can't have one without the other if you want to be great. The best part is both mindset and deliberate practice can be taught and created. Praising effort and encouraging failure as apart of a learning process can fuel our youth and ourselves to becoming better than the day before. These two concepts are the building blocks for success and greatness. It's hard to find someone who is great at what they do without having a growth mindset and have gone through thousands of hours (10,000+) of deliberate practice.
Taking action on these concepts is very hard work and with it comes frustration, humility, and sacrifice. It's your choice to be the person who is known for doing great things and pushing the envelope or being the person who says, "if I worked as hard as him I would have been just as good or better." You make the call....