Try harder or try differently?

Try harder or try differently?

Deliberate practice

Malcom Gladwell (Gladwell, 2011) popularised the notion that it takes 10,000 hours to get good at anything. Ericsson and Pool (Ericsson  et al., 2016) refute the idea claiming that it insufficiently describes the activities and tasks required during those 10,000 hours. Furthermore, Ericsson and Pool dispute that it is exactly 10,000 hours before you can claim to be an expert.  Ericsson and Pool (Ericsson  et al., 2016) argue 10,000 hours is the minimum required. Additionally, those 10,000 hours to be most effective, need to be combined with deliberate practice before immense gains and expertise being to emerge.

“The right sort of practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else.”

Deliberate practice for musicians

Ericsson and Pool (Ericsson  et al., 2016) suggest that in order to make such large gains in ability for a particular endeavour, such as learning a musical instrument, we must understand how to harness that brain and its ability to adapt to doing things that were previously not possible. More importantly, once we have reached the stage of mastering the previously underdeveloped skill, we will rely on its automaticity for continued use. At this point, failure to go on and further develop unrefined skills will not lead to any improvement.

“Automated abilities generally deteriorate in the absence of deliberate efforts to improve.”

Practice must be purposeful. It must have a goal. Practice must also have feedback. You need to understand how close or far away you are from the goal and how to go about reaching it. The solution is not to “try harder” but to “try differently” (Ericsson  et al., 2016).



Ericsson , K. A., & Pool, R. (2016). Peak: How all of us can achieve extraordinary things: Vintage Digital.

Gladwell, M. (2011). Outliers: The story of success: Bay Back Books.


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