Monday, May 4, 2009

Deliberate Practice

Deliberate practice differs markedly from what most people do when they "practice." Deliberate practice entails actively striving to stay outside of your comfort zone in order to stretch and improve yourself. It is hard, exhausting, and painful.

For example. each winter I snowboard. However, when I do it, I do not deliberately practice it. I go out and do mostly those things that I already know how to do, on comfortable runs that are not too trying, on days that are relatively comfortable weather. If I ever wanted to actually get better, I would have to go out, do new things each day, and fail at them over and over again, getting hurt each time, until I improved.

An example of deliberate practice that I am currently doing is trying to learn new leadership styles from the people I work under in the military. In comparison to simply showing up to work and doing my job, I actively try to take note of what different management and leadership techniques different people employ, and how well they work. Then I try to use some of these techniques myself. Whether this be remembering more names, using different negotiation styles, talking to people in certain ways, organizing things in particular manners, etc., I am able to deliberately practice my own skills through striving to learn more from them and stay outside of my comfort zone of what has worked in the past.

This can hold true for any occupation. Whether it be that you are a cook and want to improve through each day trying to learn new meals, figure out how to improve current ones, etc., or whether you are a driver that needs to go on new tracks, use new vehicles, or other things. The key is to never get complacent and never get comfortable. Striving to find and overcome adverse circumstances is the key to improvement.