Researchers are clear about this point: It doesn’t matter whether it’s in sports, music, medicine, computer programming, mathematics, or other fields. Talent is not the key that unlocks excellence.
You need a particular kind of practice – deliberate practice – to develop expertise.
In honor of the one-year anniversary of Sums, the best-of-class book summaries for leaders, I want to paraphrase authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s discussions in their book The Truth About Leadership on deliberate practice and apply them to reading.
Five Elements in the Deliberate Practice of Reading
- Design a reading discipline to specifically improve your performance – if you want to become an expert, you must have a methodology, a clear goal, a way to measure success, and a specific process for accomplishing the goal.
- Reading has to be repeated a lot – sloppy execution is not acceptable to top performers. Read far and wide in your chosen field with sustained effort.
- Feedback on your results must be continuously available – every learner needs feedback. As you are reading, make it a practice to share your insights, comments, and questions with a group of peers, a mentor, or some other third-party to help you analyze how you are doing.
- Reading is highly demanding mentally – developing expertise requires intense concentration and focus. Reading sessions need to be free of those daily interruptions that are commonplace in everyone’s day-to-day routines.
- Sometimes reading isn’t all that fun – while you should love what you do, deliberate reading practice is not designed to be fun. The knowledge that you are improving and getting closer to your dream of superior performance should outweigh the sacrifices you make.
The best leaders are the best learners.
The best learners are the best readers.
Want to join me on the “practice” field of reading?
inspired by and adapted from The Truth About Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner