Mr. Paul Kelly
Head of Secondary
Purposeful Practise – be a better version of yourself
Everyday I try to be a better version of myself than I was yesterday, most would say it is not a tough ask given the low starting point, but it remains a challenge to me. The reason it is a challenge is being good at anything takes hard work, resilience and, most importantly, an understanding of what very good looks like.
In 2008 Malcom Gladwell wrote in ‘Outliers’, that to be an expert at something, one needed to spend 10,000 hours doing it, claiming “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness” This has been hotly disputed by academics over the years, but the one thing they all agree on is improvement only happens through practise and commitment. Gladwell’s misstep it would seem, was in not recognising that the practise needs to be purposeful and must address areas of weakness identified in one’s performance.
Purposeful practise, according to Professor Anders Ericsson (author of ‘Peak’), must;
- Be focussed on an end goal
- Take the participant outside of their comfort zone
- Allow the participant to receive feedback to improve their performance
- Introduce the participant to new practises and techniques to improve their performance.
So, in order for me to be a better version of myself I must know what my flaws are (thankfully my family point these out to me), I need to understand specifically what it is I want to develop e.g. I want to learn to speak Arabic. I then need to practise at a level which pushes me outside of my comfort zone (there is no point in just learning the same few phrases) and I need to receive feedback from someone whose skill level exceeds my own who gives me specific targets on which to focus. Finally, I need to practise regularly otherwise I will lose the ability to recall and speak the phrases I have learnt.
Albert Einstein reportedly said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” Therefore, changing your method of practise is paramount in making the improvements you want.
Mr. Paul Kelly