Thursday, 28 October 2010

Does Practice Make Perfect? If you're really very good at something, chances are you have put in a lot of practice . . .

"Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good.

It's the thing you do that makes you good."

Malcolm Gladwell,
from the book
The Story of Success.'

That is one very successful book, but tell me, if a book about failures doesn't sell, is it a success? Don't answer that just yet because studies show that ten thousand hours of practice are required to achieve the level of 'Mastery' associated with being world-class, successful, or an expert . . . in anything!

Ten Thousand hours?
Yeah, that's a lot of practice,
and that is what
separates out the chaff from the wheat!

Remember that little known band called The Beatles? The Who? No, The Beatles! Look, they didn't name themselves after a group of insects ya'know, they were better spellers than that! They named themselves by the Beat of their music, which had an originality to it. Well now, The Beatles did their Ten thousand hours of practice prior to hitting America in 1964. They first got together in 1957, seven years before landing States side of the big pond, and in 1960 they were still just a struggling high school rock band . . . but then they were invited to play in Hamburg, Germany.

Cutting a long story short, during their Hamburg period The Beatles managed to get in ten thousand hours of intensive practice time. What was so special about Hamburg? It wasn't that it paid well. It didn't. Or that the acoustics were fantastic. They weren't. Or that the audiences were savvy and appreciative. They were anything but. It was the sheer amount of time the band was forced to play.

Here is John Lennon, in an interview after The Beatles disbanded, talking about the band's performances at a Hamburg strip club called Indra (please read in a strong Liverpudlian accent):

"We got better and got more confidence. We couldn't help it with all the experience playing all night long. It was handy them being foreign. We had to try even harder, put our heart and soul into it, to get ourselves over.

In Liverpool, we'd only ever done one-hour sessions, and we just used to do our best numbers, the same ones, at every one. In Hamburg, we had to play for 'eight' hours, so we really had to find a new way of playing."

Eight hours a night . . . seven days a week . . . Hamburg was the place where the Beatles went from an average band to a great band. Why? Because they got in ten thousand hours of practice.

OK, The Beatles . . . that's just one such example, but these Studies have shown that every successful wo/man, band, sportsman etc. becomes successful not simply through their talent, but through the number of hours they put into practicing and developing that talent.

Yes it's true what they say, that practice makes perfect,
and ten thousand hours of practice makes for expertise and mastery of your subject.

As an aside I'd also say that 40 days and nights in the wilderness would probably equate to someone becoming enlightened for example . . . there would be plenty of hours of stillness, oneness and simply being in the moment; enough to break through the conditioning of the ego/mind.

So, what I'm saying here is that 'Success', on any level, requires a balance of both 'talent' and 'practice'. Yes, you can add words like perseverance and determination if you so choose, but . . .

. . . what it comes down to is this:

When you do something you really love to do, and you are also good at it, then the persistence and determination . . are already there . . . . they're a given. Why are they a given? Because you are doing something you love doing and are passionate about, you actually enjoy doing it and want to get better at it, now all you have to do is create a situation which equates to The Beatles 'Hamburg' scenario.

Don't worry about getting paid well (or at all) at this stage, don't be concerned with perfect circumstances, and don't expect everyone to appreciate what you're doing, not everyone will . . but after ten thousand hours of practice you'll be a Master of your subject, and the money, the applause and the appreciation will naturally follow. So . . .

. . . Just do it.
Follow your passion!

WARNING: No Beetles were harmed during the making of this video, although some Beatles lives were enhanced, and one does wonder just how many cockroaches The Beatles encountered during this process!


So, practice makes perfect, right? Which reminds me, isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors also call what they do "practice"? Or is it just me?
Ha, ha . . all the best till next time . .
Doug :-)


  1. Great post Doug. I often tell my students it is practice time that gets you to Black can't rush it. Just gotta put in the hours.

  2. This is a great post even though you wrote it so quickly.

    Practice is perfection. Non-volitional practice would be imperfectable living of Oneness.

  3. Hi David,

    Many thanks for your appreciation both here and on facebook ;-)'s true, you've got to put in the hours, but let's face it, you can only put those into doing something that truly moves you...

  4. Hello Ta Wan,

    How 'quickly' did I write it?

    That is one very profound statement, and so true my friend:

    "Practice is perfection. Non-volitional practice would be imperfectable living of Oneness."



  5. Repetition is the only way to go beyond the limitations of the body movement and enter the realm of mind/body coordination