So we're into the second month of the year, you're steadfast on your journey to improve your life & career. If you're losing a little steam, keep at it, because you're just getting started! If you feel like you're not making the progress you already expected, deliberate action might be the key to help you push closer to your goals.
I want to start with what inspired me for today's blog:
I listen to freakonomics radio on iTunes and I always look forward to their next podcast: they create high-quality productions and I love their focus on human behavior across many different topics like economics, advertising, politics, entertainment, society and more. However, one of the most recent casts on "How to be great at just about anything" was so fascinating it inspired me to write this quick blog to share with you and in doing so, I tried to make it more relatable and actionable for every day folks like us:
10,000 hour rule
Have you heard of the 10,000 rule? Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, states that 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any field. This means that if you spent 5 days a week practicing just one thing and sleeping 8 hours a day, you would be a high-level expert in that area in around 5 years. Want to be a professional golfer? Considering all physical conditions equal, just practice 10,000 hours and you'll get there...I'm oversimplifying things here but that is the general concept (actually sports are omitted from Malcolm's 10,000 rule).
"The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they paint a lot." — Macklemore
How does this apply to your career and how can you apply it to everyday life?
Its pretty hard to practice while you have daily responsibilities, objectives to tackle, and metrics to achieve (I think having a great mentor can help bridge the gap of not having deliberate practice). With this in mind, I think the next best thing is to have deliberate action instead.
What's the difference between "deliberate action" and "deliberate practice"? Not too much: practice is a repetitious action with a expert level coach who can help you improve (or mentor); action is just the act of doing. Some of the things you're acting on can be repetitious, however, deliberate practice focuses on deliberate repetitious actions—whew. For those who spend a lot of time working, and have responsibilities outside of work, "doing" instead of practicing during the work day is likely to be more feasible on your time.
During the day, it can be easy to fall into the motions of your day-to-day duties, going through the same production cycles... or maybe you had a recent conflict with a team member and you acted quickly to resolve, relying on your instinct. A lot of these actions that we respond to as an impulse can impede our ability to get better. Deliberate action is easy, you have just to inject a step of thinking into everything you do, making every act of doing, a deliberate action.
" Practice deliberate action. Pause before you take an action and verbalize what you intend to do, and then take your action." — David Marquet
Awareness is key
To get started in doing deliberate action, begin by spending time being acutely aware of every single thing you're doing and why you're doing it—from going to the water cooler to your presentation in front of coworkers. When you participate in high level awareness, you'll quickly find out how much or little you're impulse driven.
"Reflective awareness of one's knowledge is required in order to use that knowledge to guide behavior under conditions of interference." — Cognitive Complexity and Control
I'll take a stab at what this means: "Know yourself". When you get to know how you might respond under certain circumstances, and are honest about your knowledge of a particular subject, you can begin to think about what the deliberate response, and therefore action, might be.
And the more deliberate actions you make, the more you'll quickly start to find areas and moments where you could have improved the outcome or response, just by simply taking a moment to be deliberate in what you're doing.
What do you think of deliberate action and the 10,000 hour rule? Are you practicing being deliberate already?