A curious programmer

Overnight success

January 30th, 2015 by Derrick

We all would love overnight success and want to believe the stories out there. Dig into any of the stories and one finds years of work that could be considered the ground work for the seeming overnight success.

I also crave overnight success but rather reluctantly have accepted that success takes time. For the past few years I have been reading about ‘Deliberate Practice’. This does seem like a way to guarantee success. Here is what I have found.

Success in any activity requires deliberate practice. Deliberate practice requires:
a. concentrated effort and focus
b. feedback and reinforcement

Lets break this down a bit more.

Set a goal.
This shows an interest in the activity and a certain belief that you can do it.
Most goals are too large and there are benefits to having sub-goals. Say the goal is ‘good at Maths’. A sub-goal would be ‘good at Algebra’. This in turn could have a sub-goal of ‘fast at factorising’ which in turn requires ‘fast at times tables’.

Do it.
Don’t procrastinate. Get the needed instruction. Get the needed resources. Do it.
Following up on the Maths goal and times tables. Find a resource that helps you practice your times table skills.
Start or join the discussion below. There will be someone that can help with finding resources.

Analyse your performance.
Identify the weaknesses and address them getting expert guidance if necessary.

Try again.
Practice till the sub-goal is achieved.

Deliberate practice will help with cognitive, perceptual, and motor tasks.
Quoting Peter Norvig:
Researchers have shown it takes about ten years to develop expertise in any of a wide variety of areas.
The key is deliberative practice: not just doing it again and again, but challenging yourself with a task that is just beyond your current ability, trying it, analyzing your performance while and after doing it, and correcting any mistakes. Then repeat. And repeat again.
… there is no one route to achieving competence, then expertise, then mastery.

Start or join the discussion below.

One response to “Overnight success”

  1. […] The brain changes throughout life – Brain Plasticity is not just for the very young. Everyone can benefit and you don’t need to be severely learning disabled like Barbara Arrowsmith-Young. However, ensure that the right pathways are developed. If the task is complex get a coach to teach you the right way. Please see the article on Deliberate Practice http://goodfit.com.au/overnight-success/ […]

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