Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

One of the most outrageous claims of the self-help literature is that it’s easy to become a world-class expert (not just ‘good’ but ‘world class’) in some or other skill. While many of us would like to become the next Picasso or Nils Lofgren (look him up) few of us have either the time or the patience to put in the necessary practice to do so. Instead we put our faith in some or other self-help guru or other who claims to know a sure-fire shortcut that will allow us to achieve our dream of becoming a world class talent by the end of next week. It’s hard to believe that a grown adult could believe that they could become so talented overnight, but that’s exactly what millions of readers of self-help books think as they devour the inspiring stories of seemingly ‘normal’ people, people (just like you and me) who wanted to be great so much that through an act of sheer will and a crafty hack or two, they rose above their (always dire) circumstances to achieve their goal of becoming a world class talent (and, of course, making a fortune in the process).


If they could do it, given all that was against them, so can you! The thing is, you can’t. Well maybe you can, but the odds are not in your favour. Experts argue that in order to become world class we need to put in around 10,000 hours practice (which adds up to between two-and-a-half to three hours every day for ten years). Of course the Gurus warn you that it’ll be difficult – but they’ve already done such a good getting you all pumped up with those inspirational stories that you’re well beyond listening to them (especially as they’ve already told you to ignore the naysayers). Those stories go straight to the part of our brain that wants us to be someone else – right here, right now – and convinces it that its unreasonable demands are not only reasonable but doable. Sedated by the comforting reassurance that its demands can now be met, our inner child goes back to sleep and we can finally get some respite from its constant nagging. Until, of course, it wakes up, realises it still isn’t a rock god and starts screaming for its next fix of self-help snake oil…


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