Deliberate Practice Is Not Very Fun

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The final characteristic of deliberate practice is that it is not very fun. In fact, deliberate practice is explicitly designed to be stressful—you are actively trying to push yourself beyond what you are currently capable of doing. No one likes to feel unsuccessful, and yet deliberate practice sessions are engineered so that successes are few and far between. Once you’ve found success, deliberate practice doesn’t let you stop to savor the moment; you keep repeating it with the same lazer-like focus until you can’t get it wrong, or you move on to something even more challenging. The minute you stop pushing yourself and get caught up in the moment is the minute that you lose the critical faculties that make deliberate practice so transformative.

At the end of the day, this is the reason that deliberate practice is so challenging. The principles of deliberate practice are straightforward. The problem is applying them; you are deliberately stepping outside of your comfort zone, repeatedly, and ratcheting up the difficulty level as soon as your comfort zone expands. Properly done, deliberate practice is exhausting, mentally taxing, and endlessly challenging.

To be fair, there can be an elmenet of enjoyment in knowing that you are pushing yourself past your limits and in seeing an impossible task become manageable. However, the overriding emotion of deliberate practice is not joy. The kind of enjoyment that comes with deliberate practice is very different than the enjoyment of a great social dance or winning a Jack & Jill, and the successful practitioner needs to be aware of that difference so he or she can persevere through the challenge imposed by deliberate practice.

There are lots of books written about motivational strategies to carry through a practice routine, and future posts will examine some of those strategies. In the meantime, however, there is an important benefit from the challenging nature of deliberate practice. Put simply: not many people will persevere long enough to benefit from it. As a result, the window of opportunity is wide open for you to transform your own dancing to a higher plane.

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