Tagged: repetition


Pouring energy into an activity leads to expertise and enthusiasm. Expertise and enthusiasm are valuable and contagious. And “luck” is magnified by the number of people to which these are effectively communicated (and who can in turn help and spread the message).

In the words of Jason Roberts, acting on passion and telling people about it can increase your “luck surface area”, a concept he formalizes with the equation           L = D * T, “where L is luck, D is doing and T is telling” and which he illustrates as:

Courtesy of Jason Roberts

Similarly, Richard Hamming, in a lecture on doing successful research, put it thus:

You see again and again, that it is more than one thing from a good person. Once in a while a person does only one thing in his whole life, and we’ll talk about that later, but a lot of times there is repetition. I claim that luck will not cover everything. And I will cite Pasteur who said, “Luck favors the prepared mind.” And I think that says it the way I believe it. There is indeed an element of luck, and no, there isn’t. The prepared mind sooner or later finds something important and does it. So yes, it is luck. The particular thing you do is luck, but that you do something is not.

References and further reading:

Jason Roberts. 2010. How to increase Your Luck Surface Area

Richard Hamming. 1986-03-07. You and Your Research


If you lose the spirit of repetition, your practice will become quite difficult.

Repetition is necessary for deliberate practice. Repetition leads to memory and automation, and automation conserves willpower and frees attention for other things. Thus, an experienced player can focus on the opponent, not technique.

If you lose the spirit of repetition, your practice will become quite difficult.



Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney. 2011. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Strength. Penguin

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

Atul Gawande. 2009. The Checklist Manifesto. Metropolitan Books

Shunryu Suzuki. 1970. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Wheatherhill

Gary Wolf. 2008-04-21. Want to Remember Everything You’ll Every Learn? Surrender to This Algorithm. Wired




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