What Makes An Expert?
Anders Ericsson has spent the last 30 years studying virtuoso musicians, champion athletes and other exceptional performers to learn how they became great. This hour, we’ll talk with him about what it takes to make it from average to excellent, the topic of his new book, “Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.”
Click here to listen.
Mr. Ericcson is the leading expert of the “10,000 hour rule,” and has researched, written about, and refined his thinking on the rule. The idea is simple – you have to spend a lot of time – a massive amount of time! — on anything to master it. (10,000 hours is the round number).
But, it’s not just any 10,000 hours – you have to be very deliberate about your pursuit of expertise. You have to put in many, many hours of “deliberate practice.” “Purposeful practice” is what he calls it in his new book. These are hours spent working on your skill for the purpose of getting better at it.
During the interview, Krys Boyd asked a great question. She asked (paraphrased, from memory) – “what if someone want to get a little better at something, but is not aiming at master-level expertise?” She was referring to cooking skills; she wants to get better, but not world-class great.
I can think of many other such pursuits by many people.
So, I thought about people who speak (make presentations) only every now and then, and the daunting task they face to do it well. (This would be true for pretty much anything that one does only “every now and then”).
In other words, someone who makes an occasional presentation needs to get better at it, so as not to be boring, or ineffective. But, they do not make enough presentations to justify putting in the massive amounts of time it takes to reach great(er) expertise.
What does this person do? The answer is to be very mindful preparing for that occasional presentation; to pull out your notes about how to prepare and deliver a speech/presentation; to be very deliberate in the preparation and delivery. In other words, what is second nature for the expert has to be carefully attended to by the occasional practitioner.
You prepare, you practice, and you do better than you would without giving such thought to the task at hand.
And, because you work at it, even a little (but with full focus in the moment), you will do better than you would have.
And, then, relax, and don’t be too tough on yourself – you’re not an actual expert. That’s ok, isn’t it?