Practice makes perfect
It is a phrase many of us will be familiar with, but how many of us test the theory and regularly dedicate conscious effort to becoming better at something?
It’s been almost two years since the book ‘Bounce’ by Matthew Syed was first recommended to me and with a recent reminder from Ollie I finally got around to it.
Syed is an international table-tennis champion and has collated research from all areas in his book to explain exactly what it takes to entirely develop a skill. In a nutshell, the key factor is the number of hours you devote to the task in hand, with 10,000+ hours required over 10 years to reach your full potential. Syed elaborates on how a confident attitude, favourable genes and external support in the right form and at the right time can also contribute to success.
The point that has really stuck with me though, is the distinction between ‘practice’ and ‘purposeful practice’. Many of us go about our daily lives without really being aware of how much time we are spending on activities and without putting 100% effort in.
There are people who spend hours in the gym without breaking a sweat. Some of us reach for a calculator to work out the most basic of sums that we could probably do in our heads. Many of us roll through our to-do list in the office with little thought as to whether we could be doing these tasks better. Purposeful practice is what distinguishes amateur sportspeople from successful professionals. It’s what sorts the average workers from the high flyers.
In the busy world of today it can be hard to remain focused, but by making the effort to engage your mind in your activities you should start to see the advantages. A good place to start would be taking a few minutes a day to reflect on your actions and set yourself small goals to improve.
That is why I have decided to commit to purposeful practice of daily exercise for a month. As a non-exerciser, this is a big thing for me so I am going to start small and gradually increase the intensity/ duration. My aim is to be able to exercise harder and for longer by the end of the month – so I will be pushing myself further each week. Whether your long term aim is to become fitter or to be more productive at work, I challenge you to join me and try it just for one month to begin with to see how far you can improve your skills. Get in touch to let us know how you get on!