I have been enjoying the book ‘Bounce‘ by Mathew Syed and learning how 10,000 hours of practice is generally standard to gain real expertise. Mathew goes on to mention that this is not just ordinary repetition however, but something he calls purposeful practice. In essence this is working hard and working cleverly, using specially developed techniques to continuously improve. He refers to driving a car, where most people have spent more than 10,00 hours however very few improve significantly because they are just running on personal autopilot.
I was thinking about this after reading a very technical document and realized that purposeful practice applies at work too. I have spend years working in a certain areas however would say that I have expertise in only very few, even though I have spent way more than 10,000 hours in many. I am certain it is because I have not really had a singular purpose for many topics, with no real focus to produce a result that requires full immersion and practice. I have done lots of tasks on the topics I know best.
I also found the diagram below that supports my thinking that to gain real expertize, even for knowledge, it requires some kind of associated physical movement, it’s true for me anyway. Examples include writing a related summary or article, or sharing the knowledge with someone else through talking or presenting. Certainly I’ve bought and half-read dozens of books that I can barely now because I never really applied them.
I’m therefore now looking out of opportunities for purposeful practice, where I can take on practical tasks in areas I wish to develop, and move towards enlightenment. Or to put it another way, I hope to reduce the amount of time I waste on looking at things I then forget!