Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect 150 150 Freyr

One of my life’s greatest luck was to get to know my former swimming and sports teacher Halldór Kristjánsson. Halldór was an energetic teacher and everyone’s favorite. He guided me in my first swimming lessons at Skógar, in South Iceland, as a kid. Dóri, as he was called, showed genuine interest in us, the young farmers sons and daughters. The most important lesson learnt was though from his frequently repeated statement: “Remember kids, practice makes perfect!”.  Even if we were like brick in the water, he carefully chose the moments to point out the importance of practice rather than cheering the gene controlled talent. Dóri knew that talent was a good base but not what is needed for mastery. For mastery he saw practice as the only path!

Many good people have studied this in more detail. In his book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell states what amount there is to reach mastery, become top of the trade. Ten thousand hours he says, be it at playing the violin, programming, playing football or polo. His finding being based up on the studies of Eric Andersson (this among others). Eric later reiterated (in his book Peak) that counting hours is nowhere enough. Deliberate practice it must be! To be sufficient the practice must be focused, challenging enough and guided by a tutor who pushes you.

It is comforting news for us mediocre. Even better for you, with all your talent and potential and all your life ahead! By adding an hour here and there, using every minute to the fullest, focusing on the most important exercises, guided by a tutor, you gradually improve. At first you only exceed the time put in by your competitors by hours, then tens, hundreds, with full dedication even thousands of hours. At last Dóri’s statement is no longer an empty statement but a good description of you and your travel on the path to mastery!


Freyr Ólafsson, management consultant, owner of Staka Consulting

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