Mastery comes from deliberate practice

up:: Learning, 05 Programming MOC “Performance Psychology” studies how mastery happens.

The core components are:

  • Focusing fully on the task at hand
  • Receiving immediate feedback

Berlin Study

🔖 Source: Two The 10 000 hour rule Mentioned in Deep Work.

  • Study at Berlin’s academy of music
    • The best students were the ones who practiced significantly more from a young age (around 10.000 hours)
    • The medium students practiced around 8.000 hours
    • The ones who weren’t good enough to be professional (ending up as music teachers) practiced only around 4.000 hours.
    • The astonishing thing is that there were no outliers: There was no grinder, someone who worked hard but wasn’t in the best group. No floater, someone who didn’t work hard but made it to the best.

Newsletter summary

From LL016. So far, what stood out to me is the idea of the “10,000 hour rule”. I heard about it before but wasn’t aware of the origin: The key study involved violinists at the Music Academy of West Berlin. It was found that all participants could be divided into three levels of skill: a) The ones so skilled they had the potential to become internatial soloists, b) the ones who can make a living with their skill and, c) the ‘music teachers’.

The single dividing factor was the amount of hours the students had put into their practice so far. The astonishing thing was that there was not a single expection. There were no ‘grinders’, people who worked hard but someone weren’t good. No ‘floaters’ who didn’t practice but someone still ended up on the top.

No, achieving mastery came by sheer time of deliberate practice.

Case studies

🔖 Source: Two The 10 000 hour rule

  • 10,000 hours are 10 years with 3h/day. So, it roughly takes 10 years for mastery
    • It took Bobby Fisher 9 years to become a grandmaster
    • Mozart too, wrote his masterpiece at 21 years
  • You can only practice that much if your parents encourage you and you aren’t poor
  • Bill Joy, rewrote UNIX and Java
    • Programming with punchcards was incredibly show and tedious
    • Michigan, where Joy studied was one of the first and few places to have timesharing technology
    • This allowed him to program quickly, all he wanted (because it had a bug) and he was up to the task
    • Before he was an expert, someone had to give him the opportunity to become one
  • Bill Gates: He was bored at school, so they took him to a private school, Lakeside. This was 1968. They just happened to install a timeshare system. Bill Joy only started on a timeshare system in 1971. This is an amazing opportunity. Bill Gates and friends taught themselves how to use this strange machine.
  • All of these people were obviously gifted. What stands out, is not their amazing talent but their extraordinary opportunities.