Deliberate Practice

From Anne Clelland:

Sprint triathlon gear plus cat Yesterday, I had the first race of my second sprint triathlon season and the best race of my life.

I had many thoughts during the race, one about Handshake 2.0, and it came with an insight.

Last season, I tried to complete races.  This season, I planned to outperform last year.  Plan executed yesterday, desired results achieved.

What I did differently was what Geoff Colvin, a senior editor at Fortune and author of Talent Is Overrated, terms "deliberate practice."

I am not a natural athlete, my swimming, biking, and running experience are recreational, and my preferred exercise is strength training at The Weight Club.  I am a hard worker, but I worked hard last year, and came in near last repeatedly.

This season, I systematically, determinedly, and consciously worked piece after piece, over and over, on the parts of a triathlon.

I see a relationship between deliberate practice and a systems approach.  I constantly monitored the impact of each new tweak – each input – on the process and its effect on my objective – going forward faster.  If the feedback nixed the tweak, I got a new input.  If the feedback indicated I shot forward, I did my best to perfect and habituate that nice new tweak.

The start-up phase of an entrepreneurial venture – like a first triathlon season – is heady and exciting and finishing each day still in business is the primary objective.

Handshake 2.0 had its first "season" in its first six months.  Now that it’s in its second six months – its second season - I see that, as its founder and leader, I am applying the principles of deliberate practice to its development.

We’re beyond start-up now, and deliberate practice reveals what sends Handshake 2.0 and its clients forward faster.

The insight about Handshake 2.0, deliberate practice, and going forward faster came to me while I was on the bike leg of the triathlon. 

I was flying.

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  1. Thoughts about “a systems approach”:
    “Monitoring” is what natural resource agencies do. With unclear objectives they rarely evolve that into “feedback” which is the monitoring and corrective or sustaining action …” tweaking” toward a better match between system performance and the goal or objectives.. .based on the monitored results…just as you have done. Inputs from coaches are important for triathletes as well as agencies. For the triathlete, “feedforward” is a realistic appraisal based on research, comparisons with winners, doctors’ advice etc. about the place in a race in 2 years. You size-up the future for yourself, then invest now to achieve a reasonable goal rather than invest too little time or energy … or to invest too much time or to over-stress or damage muscles to achieve an improbable condition.

    I appreciate interest in a systems approach. It works in amazing places.

  2. re. deliberate practice… your mom often told of her piano teacher preventing her from hours of practice but insisting only on practicing doing her exercises properly: “Don’t practice what you know. Practice what you don’t know.”

    I read about the same principle held by a famous coach … stop “practicing foul ball shooting … only practice “scoring from the line.” “Practice properly” has to be akin to “deliberate practice.” The lesson needs to be before us all, especially in the school room where boring repetition can seal in very poor behaviors.

  3. In our conversation yesterday, Mom mentioned application of deliberate practice to studying and that was a useful reminder, as well as the story of her piano instructor, of other ways I’ve used deliberate practice over the years.

    And I really appreciated your explanation of feedforward with regard to triathlon training. That’s a piece of the systems approach that’s been a challenge. Thank you!

  4. BTW, in the “best race of my life,” I came in 13 of 14 in my age group and 177 of 220 women.

    Internal results differ from external ones.

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