February 16, 2010

Practice Makes Practice

No one is born with so much talent that they don’t have to practice. We ALL have to practice. And the real difference between those people we admire so much and the rest of us is usually the amount of time spent practicing. I once heard someone tell a group that playing the harp came so easily to (another person) and that she just sat down and started playing.  That was a very hurtful comment - No one who plays well does so without practice (they just make it seem that way!).

We spend a lot of time practicing. And those people we admire practice even more.  If you get consistent practice you might spend between 5 – 20 hours a week practicing (I know, 20 hours might sound like an impossible dream for most, but it is not unreasonable - really - if you seek to gain mastery). There is a popular statistic going around that it takes about 10000 hours of practice to gain mastery of anything. If your calculator is handy that is 417 days of practice – 24 hour days…if we make it “work days” instead – it’s a much more reasonable 1250 days ( or 3 ½ years – no days off of course) and if you think of it as work years (including vacations and weekends, and holidays) its just about 5 ½ work years….ouch!

So, it is essential that you use your practice time well (since it will add up – but only slowly). And to acknowledge that true mastery will take a while (remember that 10000 is a hand-wave – not a minimum). And work slowly and steadily toward mastery through practice.

In a later post we talk about specific techniques to improve your practice.

No comments: