Practice, Passion and Perfection

A number of years ago I read an article stating that what separates people who are good at something from those who are world class is practice. This was said to hold true in sports, playing a musical instrument, chess, virtually anything imaginable.

Perhaps, the most famous quotation regarding practice is, “Practice makes perfect.” I have also heard the expression, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” The emphasis in this last quote is on the quality of practice. If we practice something incorrectly, we are likely to get better at it in a deficient way, if that makes any sense.

To make practice pay, we must practice correctly.

The most powerful practice flows from passion. When we are passionate about something, working at it does not seem like drudgery. When we dislike what we need to practice, every moment spent on it seems an eternity. Consequently, the best practice comes when we love what we are doing.

As we mature, we discover that not everything we have to do is something that we are going to be naturally passionate about. Perhaps, the greatest trick is knowing how to find as many ways to be passionate about something as possible. That way, when we do not have a natural love affair with what we are obliged to practice, we can at least generate some passionate for it. This makes the going easier.

However, we are most likely to achieve greatness in something we have genuine passion for. A person who loves to play piano is likely to practice for more time and with greater intensity than the individual who has taken up piano playing because their parents have given them no option.

After initially learning how to do something, playing an instrument for example, there comes a time when the accelerated path of learning decreases. Eventually, we go from making great strides in improvement to taking slow, choppy steps forward. This is where dedication is of the utmost importance.

In order to perfect our craft, improve our foreign language abilities, go from good to great in a sport, go from being a good piano player to being a world class performer, we must practice long and hard for what seems like marginal improvement. But those small steps toward unobtainable perfection are what can take us from being one of many people who are good at something to being elite.

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*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

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