Musicians know three important things:
- Talent is vastly overrated.￼
- Getting better at anything difficult requires daily work. Not weekly, not when you feel like it. Daily.
- 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.