Musicians know three important things:

  1. Talent is vastly overrated.
  2. Getting better at anything difficult requires daily work. Not weekly, not when you feel like it. Daily.
  3. Repetition isn’t enough—improvement requires what psychologists call deliberate practice: focused, systematic practice at the outer limits of one's current ability.

In short, musicians know that talent plays a minor role in success. It’s daily deliberate practice that takes a person, slowly but surely, from “Chopsticks” to Chopin.

The good news, as Cal Newport has pointed out, is that your field probably doesn’t know about deliberate practice. Musicians do, obviously, and so do athletes. Some software engineers, too.  But bankers? Technical writers?  Mid-level managers? In most professions, very few people have developed a strategy for systematically improving at their work.

Which means that if you do have such a strategy—if you’ll identify the most important skills in your field and use daily deliberate practice to gradually acquire them—you will have a massive advantage over your peers.

Think like a musician, and you’ll improve like one.