Most learners hit the “OK Plateau”, a point beyond which they do not improve. The best learners circumvent this through “deliberate practice”,  a way of practice articulated by the leading researcher on expertise, Anders Ericsson. Here is what it consists of, in the (paraphrased) words of the chief (and quasi-official) popularizer of Ericsson’s work, Geoff Colvin:

  1. It’s designed specifically to improve performance.
  2. It can be repeated a lot.
  3. Feedback on results is continuously available.
  4. It’s highly demanding mentally.
  5. It’s hard.
  6. It requires goals.
  7. It requires self-regulation.
  8. After the work [it requires] self-evaluation.


Further reading:

Geoff Colvin. 2008-10-21. Why Talent is Overrated. CNN Money

Geoff Colvin. 2008. Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. Portfolio

Ericsson, Anders et al. 1993. The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. Psychological Review


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