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Sung M. Kim
Sung M. Kim

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On Deliberate Practice

I've heard and read about Deliberate Practice but never paid attention to it.

After coming across James Clear (of Atomic Habits fame), I decided to read through his articles and summarize them to learn.

What is Deliberate Practice?

It's a subset of practice, which is both "purposeful and systematic".

Reference: Deliberate Practice: What It Is and How to Use It

While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.

Reference: The Beginnerโ€™s Guide to Deliberate Practice

What it is not

Deliberate Practice doesn't mean you can do anything with enough time and effort. Genetics "influence performance, [but] they do not determine performance".


Being "purposeful" means having focused attention during practice.


The biggest difference between a "simple repetition" and the Deliberate Practice is the "feedback".

There are two ways to get feedback.

  1. Measurement (Effective): You need to quantify your success and track the progress. Examples include,
    1. Number of pages read in a book
    2. Pushup count (during a workout)
    3. Sales call count
  2. Coaching: One cannot perform a task and measure at the same time
    • Coaches can find "small ways to improve"
    • Holds you accountable (for mistakes or not keeping up, etc)

Layering Skills

In "What it is not" section above, genetics doesn't determine performance.

James Clear talks about how Scott Adams, an average artist, and a run-of-the-mill jokester became successful.

What Scott did was to combine two skills (drawing + writing jokes), which is a rare quality.

OP's Note: this struck me hard


CodingBlocks podcast and "Deliberate Practice: What It Is and How to Use It" has more articles and books.

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Top comments (5)

thejoezack profile image
Joe Zack

I still need to read Atomic Habits. I also really like the idea of combining skills to come up with something you are uniquely amazing at.

I recently did some studying for a certification exam, and while it wasn't skill based it was really nice to be able to take practice tests with measurable results to help me find my weakest points.

dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim

Thanks, Joe for sharing the experience~

and introducing me to the deliberate practice.

"Combing skills" makes one reflect on what you might be "good" at but not "great" but combinable.

Atomic Habits is an awesome book :)
It's like a pragmatic version of "The power of Habit".

Also I'd recommend "BadAss" book because it discusses how to hook & retain customers your service by helping customers get better (via deliberate practice).

fly profile image

Seems like a very interesting read, will definitely read in the future.
Thanks for sharing!

dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim

Thanks Joon.

I am glad to have introduced the principle to you :)

fly profile image
joon • Edited

"... If you practice with your head, two hours is plenty"

"... In highly competitive fields, deliberate practice is often necessary but not sufficient for success"

"...because we literally can't find a single one(trait) that isn't influenced by our genes"

"while genetics influence performance, they do not determine performance"

Quite a rollercoaster of emotions reading through the 'basics' of deliberate practice.

Defining a proper KPI for any skill that I wish to increase my expertise in and utilizing the data to provide myself with feasible, applicable feedback such that I can focus on what to practice next seems to be the gist of it. I can see how and why this could be applicable to coding, yet it seems like a thing that I'll always have to weigh out and compare the benefits for effective time management (Defining a KPI and giving myself feedback could be heavily time-consuming since I'll probably have to write tests specifically to calculate the defined KPI)

Oh and don't expect too much because genetics plays a surprisingly large role if you're aiming for the higher-ups. ๐Ÿ˜„

But a very interesting perspective that I hadn't thought about.

Once again, thank you for sharing Sung! ๐Ÿ‘