Expertise Is More Of Rituals And Less Of Talent
One of the most liberating principles I have learnt in recent years, is that genius or expertise is not so much about talent or natural intelligence (even though that helps), but its more of your ability to (persistently) build the right habits and rituals until excellent behavior becomes automatic or “second-nature”. The latest book by Anders Ericsson, the father of the “10, 000 hour rule” agrees with this principle.
Anders Ericsson is his new book contends that most people mistakenly believe that the 10, 000 hours rule, which is the minimum time required to become an expert, is cast in stone and that one only needs to put in the 10,000 hours and that’s it. Actually it takes a bit more than that. Here are the four other keys critical critical in this regard:
1) Find A Mentor
The first step on your path to expertise is to find a mentor. You need to talk to somebody that you really admire, a person that is doing something in a way that they would like to eventually be able to do. Have this person help you identify what it is that you might need to change in order to be able to do what that other person is doing.
2) Don’t Try Harder, Try Different
Doing something over and over again does not necessarily make you better at it. Repetition is not expertise. To improve, you need to get out of your comfort zone. Anders says this is one of the most critical things to remember. Mindlessly going through the motions does not improve performance.
3) It’s About Doing, Not Knowing
One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that knowing equals doing. Once you have the knowledge, you need to focus on building the skills. You need to concentrate on having your execution match your mental representation of what you want to achieve. Then you need objective feedback on how well you performed. Then you need to analyze what you did wrong and how to do it better.
4) Study The Past To Have A Better Future
Look at examples of your work that has already been evaluated. Can you detect the errors? Or what was done well? This is a good way to develop your mental muscles and improve your skills, to help you to execute better going forward.
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* First published on Time Magazine