On deliberate practice in solitude…

“What’s so magical about solitude? In many fields, Ericsson told me, it’s only when you’re alone that you can engage in Deliberate Practice, which he has identified as the key to exceptional achievement. When you practice deliberately, you identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach, strive to upgrade your performance, monitor your progress, and revise accordingly. Practice sessions that fall short of this standard are not only less useful—they’re counterproductive. They reinforce existing cognitive mechanisms instead of improving them.

Deliberate Practice is best conducted alone for several reasons. It takes intense concentration, and other people can be distracting. It requires deep motivation, often self-generated. But most important, it involves working on the task that’s most challenging to you personally. Only when you’re alone, Ericsson told me, can you “go directly to the part that’s challenging to you. If you want to improve what you’re doing, you have to be the one who generates the move. Imagine a group class—you’re the one generating the move only a small percentage of the time.”

from Quiet by Susan Cain

I had written about Quiet in a post a few months ago. In a world that places a premium on group activity, extroverts and brainstorming, Quiet comes across as a reminder that everyone is not cut from the same cloth. We all work differently, but studies have constantly shown that work best gets done when one has focus, and in solitude.

All those group thinking sessions that one is prepped for from school days, all those open office plans and multitasking requirements, actually do more harm than good. We are conditioned to follow the norm, rather than to think independently about what is good for us. Hence bad practice repeats, and grows exponentially.

I have found my best work and practice in solitude. And I thought that I was an exception – after all, I too have been trying to get my 2 year old to ‘socialize’ with fellow toddlers so that he does not become a loner. It seems that I have a lot to learn about this subject.

A deep dive in…QUIETly…

See you tomorrow!