The phrase that practice makes perfect is popular and often quoted in many circles. Practice takes time and is essential to improving performance at any skill or activity. Dr. K. Anders Ericsson indicated that based on his research, it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at almost anything. This is an assertion that was heavily debated after being highlighted in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers. I feel that there is a great deal of truth in the thought related to the importance of deliberate practice over a long period of time.

I had an experience of being cut from my middle school basketball team. I loved the sport and wanted to play on an organized team. Being cut was heartbreaking and demoralizing. However, rather than giving up, I checked out a library book on basketball fundamentals and read it. Subsequently, I invested time working on improving my ball handling skills and shooting mechanics. Did I spend 10,000 hours on this? I do not know but that is not the point. The point is that I spent many hours getting better at the sport. When I tried out for the team the following year, there was no doubt that I would make it, and I did. I served as sixth man on a team that went undefeated. In the years that followed, I continued to practice deliberately and this led to a college scholarship and a memorable experience as a student athlete. Deliberate practice works.

This is not only true of sports. It can work with almost anything for which you are passionate. It is applicable for a skill such as public speaking or hobbies such as learning to play a musical instrument. The topic of whether or not 10,000 hours of practice can make you an expert at almost anything can be debated. However, what cannot be debated is that investing time practicing consistently over a long period will allow you to improve your performance. I am currently testing out this theory as I learn to play the guitar. I am not very good right now, but I intend to be. What skill are you working to improve? Regardless of how much time it will take, are you willing to put in the time to become an expert?