According to Dr. K. Aders Ericsson, author of the Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, the speed at which you acquire a skill, such as piano playing, and the level of expertise you eventually achieve, is primarily a function of how intensely, and how wisely, you practice.
Blogger David Steinberg writes about what it is exactly that we need when practicing. Passion and Opportunity. Here’s what he says about Passion.
Dr. Ericcson writes of his fellow researcher Benjamin Bloom, who concluded that:
elite performers are typically introduced to their future realm of excellence in a playful manner at a young age. As soon as they enjoy the activity and show promise compared to peers in the neighborhood, their parents help them seek out a teacher and initiate regular practice.
Want to improve? Be great? Passion matters. Rarely does an expert form who neither enjoys their mastered activity nor has a driving desire to improve. Pete Sampras likely found tennis to be a childhood love affair. He dreamt it, lived it, daydreamed it. Endless hours of practice are rigorous, and only the passionate tend to endure them.
Earl Woods wrote about consistently affirming that Tiger had developed his own passion for golf. He insisted that the boy finish his homework before practicing, and he noted that Tiger did indeed see golf as a reward. He insisted that Tiger call him at work, presumably an intimidating task for the child, so that he could ask his father if they could practice. Tiger Woods had a passion to improve that outweighed the rigors.
The less passionate? Ericcson writes:
Many individuals seem satisfied in reaching a merely acceptable level of performance, such as amateur tennis players and golfers, and they attempt to reach such a level while minimizing the period of effortful skill acquisition. Once an acceptable level has been reached, they need only to maintain a stable performance, and often do so with minimal effort for years and decades.
I, and likely you, never cared to be an excellent typist. I worked on it until it felt like “riding a bike” and then stopped trying to improve. My speed has not risen since, despite decades of experience.
Live it, breathe it, love it, or you probably will not get there, no matter what you do to prepare or how much experience you collect.
Read the entire article here… it will make you want to sit down and practice in an entirely new way!