Tag Archives: practice

Everybody knows that practice makes perfect, or rather that perfect practice makes perfect. Once you have adopted the four essential elements of deliberate practice, you have taken your first steps towards the wildest levels of success you can imagine… as long as you practice. If you are a striver, then, the question you’ll always be grappling with is this: “Should you be practicing now?” Thankfully, Bruce Lee has all the answers…     Shouldn’t you be practicing now?

Autumn means marathon season, not to mention stampedes of school children at cross-country trails all across the United States. Distance running may be grueling, but the sport appears to grow more popular every year. Interestingly, few if any sports demand such a singular focus on intrinsic motivation, mental training, and success measured not by the performance of others but against personal bests. In this, distance running looks a lot like test preparation. TRAINING Even marathoner Gordon Bakoulis Bloch saw the similarities when she said, “You can’t cram for the final.” Long distance running requires physical and mental training over a long period, along with a deliberate focus on achieving and maintaining peak readiness. Bloch added, “You’re not going to get any fitter during the last couple of weeks before the race. So don’t try cramming any last minute long runs or extra training. The best thing you can do for…

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Whatever scores you or your child have recently earned on important tests, you probably want to see improvement. Honestly, just about everyone–from the testing elite to those barely scraping by–aspires to greater achievement. Unfortunately, the path to next level performance doesn’t always look that appetizing. How can a test taker who fell short of his or her score goals improve those scores? How does anyone get better at anything challenging and worthwhile? How does a pianist improve speed, timing, and precision on difficult pieces? COACHING AND PRACTICE How does a runner increase speed while building endurance? COACHING AND PRACTICE How does a baker create more consistently elaborate and delicious confections? COACHING AND PRACTICE How does a baseball player improve batting average? COACHING AND PRACTICE How does a potter expand the size and volume of pots thrown while maintaining quality? COACHING AND PRACTICE How does an actor master all of the…

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Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are long… really long. These exams feel far more like marathons than sprints. The marathon comparison may actually be unfair to the famous run, as elite race winners finish their 26.2 in less than 2.5 hours. At 3.5 hours each (without the essay, of course) the SAT and ACT demand much more, at least mentally. Like marathons, these long tests challenge a participant’s body, mind, and will. So what do marathoners know that test takers can learn from? Mimic the Course Runner’s World suggests that, when possible, you start doing training runs on the same topography as the marathon. “For example, go up and down lots of hills if you’re running New York City, and get used to several hours of pancake flatness if you’re running a course like Chicago.” The benefits of simulating your race day challenge in training matches up well…

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Have you ever observed someone whose excellence seemed effortless? You may not imagine yourself in this category, but we exhibit moments of effortless excellence all the time. Consider a task as simple as driving. When we first learn how to drive, the entire process seems bewilderingly challenging. I learned to drive in midtown Manhattan during the morning rush and could not conceive how my brave instructor expected me to change lanes without slowing down while whipping past taxis and buses on 5th Avenue. More than a million miles later, I don’t hesitate to make that same drive while, at the same time, adjusting the radio, carrying a conversation, and actively questioning what I’m doing on Museum Mile during rush hour. The journey from roadkill to Road King begins with a basic inability to grasp how difficult the act of driving really is. Once a neophyte gets behind the wheel, however,…

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What if you could go to the gym once and be fit for the rest of your life? Or you could have one conversation in a foreign language and be entirely fluent? The sad truth is you can’t. There just aren’t shortcuts to success. What’s more, imagining the possibility of such outcomes might, in fact, be the thing that holds you back from actually accomplishing these sorts of goals. When you look around at successful people—in any discipline—what you don’t see is the months, years, even decades of hard work and incremental improvement that brought them to where they are. Mastery, it turns out, is not so much about innate ability (though that helps) or sudden revelation (even if artists sometimes depend on this) but something more akin to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule. But, what’s going on in those 10,000 hours exactly? Hard work, a little luck, and trust in…

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