Sunday 10 October 2021


 Once long back I was happened to read an article by Aruna Shankara Narayan about "practice pays rich Dividends." We all might have heard these words by elders  often saying  to  practice well and  "practice makes a man perfect."

with constant practice any skill can be made to perfection. Many successful people or artist too often  advice this to freshers in the field. with dedicated practice nothing is impossible to learn.  

In this context I will share  few points on the above said article.

In contrast to the "mugpot" who pores over her books diligently every evening, the student who aces a few tests with an apparent lack of effort is deemed to be "more intelligent". In  other words, the more  you have study in order to do well, the less intelligent you are. If you are gifted or naturally good at something, you don't really have to try very hard. Thus, according to lay perception, "talent" and "effort" are inversely related. So while we may place intelligence of various forms on  a pedestal, we tend to down play effort the hidden hours of toil and practice that underlie almost every feat in any domain.

The idea that talents are inherited is evident in comments like, "Ramya is a born dancer" and "Chess runs in sagar's genes." In fact, when a person excels at  a skill, we attribute her achievement to her innate genius. Likewise, when we are confronted with  a task that we find challenging, we are tempted to give up by convincing ourselves that we simply do not have a talent for it.

We have to exercise caution when we automatically conclude that we are less skilled in  a domain because of our genetic inheritance.

No one, not even the "born athlete" or "natural artist" can  boast of creditable achievements unless they put in effort. An expert on expertise, psychologist Anders Ericsson, has studied individuals across diverse domains in order to distil the characteristics of expert performance. Whether it is chess or typing or solving physics problems, a person has to invest at 10,000 hours before he or she can boast of expertise in that domain.

Here I would like to remember the words of Bruce Lee (1940-1973)  "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times''.  That's the power of practice.

When we first start learning a skill, be it typing, driving or playing the guitar, most of us make reasonable progress initially. From being a novice, we progress to a moderate level of proficiency that most  of us are content with. However, in order to reach expert levels, we have to continue to devote concerted effort. Merely performing  the activity in a mindless, repetitive manner is not sufficient. Experts, Ericsson argues, engage in "deliberate practice", where they work on achieving preset, specific goals in a sequential manner and change their ways based on feedback from a coach or mentor.

Further, we have to accept that progress is bound to be gradual even for the expert. Here the most taught proverb needs to recollected. "slow and steady win the race" 

So the next time, we feel frustrated when we cannot master a skill despite putting in hours and hours of practice, perhaps, it is time to examine the quality of our practice as well.

According to Bhagavad Gita, to acquire a skill one needs to have dedication and sincerity towards his practice. "श्रद्धावान् लभते ज्ञानम्" 

we cannot expect a sudden metamorphosis of our daily levels by simply sweating it out for a week. But sustained application over prolonged periods is likely to pay rich dividends.

Collectively as a culture, we need to know and appreciate the role of effort in any endeavour. As individuals, we should curb our tendency to give up without persevering. Perhaps, we should pay heed to Mahatma Gandhi's words, "satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory." 

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  1. Very true persistence is a way to get better at learning any skill.

  2. I agree with all my heart. Talent is inborn, but it takes hard work and diligence to excel at something.

  3. Yes, it take a lot of dedication to excel in something. Good post



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