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If you want to become an expert, a true Master in your chosen field, be that art, sport or business - you can. Research in the 1970’s by Herbert Simon in the USA found that it was not always innate genius or talent that made people successful; it was a function of the hours that they had put in, which means that ANYONE can do it!

The research proposed that no-one had achieved world-class expertise without 10 years of purposeful practice in any field. Further research into expert performance has since validated this rule (found to equate to roughly 10,000 hours of practice) across numerous fields including tennis, music, mathematics, swimming, running, and it even applies to professional writers, scientists, poets, doctors, and artists. This consistent finding provided strong evidence that even those most strongly touted “naturals” in their field were not exempt from ANY of the hard work, dedication or persistence required. They were not afforded an easier path to the top, and there were simply NO exceptions to the rule. They made a bigger commitment with more sacrifices.

Experts then, aren’t people with freakish natural abilities in a particular area. Experts are experts at maintaining high-levels of practice and improving performance. In other words, it’s not about what you’re born with…. it’s about how consistently and deliberately you can work to improve your performance.

In many cases this can be a monotonous experience for drivers, but this usually is as a result of the need for repetition of drills to ensure particular skills are perfected over time and as a result they can then be repeated automatically or instinctively under the pressure of competition.

What is deliberate practice?

Deliberate practice relates to the quality of the practice time. It focuses on the specific goal of improving performance by participating in highly structured activities. It can be easy to just “go through the motions” of practice, but if your goal is to gain skills and become an elite driver, engaging in deliberate practice should be one of your objectives.

The requirements of deliberate practice:

  1. You have to be motivated to put in the hours of practice in order to improve

  2. You have to be highly organised, and each practice session must be structured to ensure relevant skills are being developed

  3. Your training drills must stretch you beyond your current skill level

  4. You must be able to access feedback either from your coach or by self-assessment

  5. You have to be disciplined to undertake the repetition is required when the rewards in terms of fun and satisfaction are not immediately experienced

  6. Your concentration / intensity must be at its maximum for the duration of the practice

The importance of extra-curricular study

A study by Anders Ericsson in 1993 titled “The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance” revealed that the amount of extra-curricular practice (practicing on your own outside of scheduled training sessions) was the key difference between good and elite performers (this has to relate to greater desire wanting to make them practice more). This is where top players get ahead of their peers: The top players tend to start early and stay behind to practice after training and they voluntarily give up leisure time to do a bit extra. They go beyond the standard sessions that everyone else does. They seem to know that their practice really does count and that extra practice is the key to improving and out-performing their peers.

The bad news

There are no shortcuts for you to get to the top. 10,000 hours of hard work, is what it takes, no matter who you are and the assumption that certain people who have a natural talent makes their road quicker or easier appears not to hold true. If it was easy then everyone would be doing it!

The good news

There are no shortcuts either. Everyone is climbing the same mountain. The 10,000 hours rule states that you CAN develop extraordinary skills (even super-human).

Obviously the 10,000 hour rule isn’t fixed as we all learn at different speeds. Some people will make better neuron-associations and just have natural physical or mental advantages but what the 10,000 hours rule says, is that it takes time and hard work to excel at something. Just to be good or to achieve a pass in something can be achieved fairly quickly, but to be truly outstanding takes a great deal of time and effort.


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