Friday, March 14, 2014

How Do We Become "Good" at Something?

I recently read an article that discussed difference between having an innate skill and the hard work to develop skill.

Here is what the authors say (Click here for entire article)
Talents that selectively facilitate the acquisition of high levels of skill are said to be present in some children but not others. The evidence for this includes biological correlates of specific abilities, certain rare abilities in autistic savants, and the seemingly spontaneous emergence of exceptional abilities in young children, but there is also contrary evidence indicating an absence of early precursors for high skill levels in young people. An analysis of positive and negative evidence and arguments suggests that differences in early experiences, preferences, opportunities, habits, training and practice are the real determinants of excellence.

OK, that was hard to read. The last sentenced was the most eye-opening. Certainly some children display unusual abilities in specific areas, although many of the reported cases are entirely anecdotal. However, there is considerable evidence that suggests training and practice are much more significant causes of displayed talents than any innate skill.

What does this have to do with tai chi? What's the secret? Simple. Practice and you will get surprising results. Get feedback on how you are doing and you will get better at it.

Here's some free advice to help you with it. There is a technique called Directed Practice that helps us develop skill. You can read more about in an article I wrote some time ago. Click here.
Deliberate practice also involves monitoring one's performance - in real-time and via recordings - continually looking for new ways to improve. This means being observant and keenly aware of what happens, so that you can tell yourself exactly what went wrong.

© 2014 Eric Borreson