Posts Tagged ‘deliberate practice’

Phelps, Nash and Horowitz

These three men are great examples of practice at work.  Most of us know about Michael Phelps, the Olympic gold medalist.  His coach appeared on Good Morning America and reported that Michael practiced 365 days a year.  The news reporter asked the coach, “Did Michael practice on Christmas day?” 

“Absolutely,” his coach replied. 

“On his birthday?” the interviewer asked.

“For sure, twice on his birthday.”

Can you imagine?  So if you wanted to win a gold medal, you would learn from this conversation that you might have to commit to that level of practice.  Now, not everyone has Michael Phelps’ body type and not everyone has his muscle makeup, but the point is, of all the other swimmers who have similar body types and muscle makeup, his intensity and his commitment to deliberate practice obviously put him over the top.

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Thursday, May 24th, 2012
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Let’s Better Understand Deliberate Practice

Let’s talk about regular practice versus deliberate practice.   Let me describe my two different practices in golf and see if you can discern the difference.

In regular practice, I hit a large bucket of balls every week, thinking that this will make me a better golfer.  In deliberate practice, I hit 100 golf balls with my nine iron, with the goal of hitting at least 80 of them with a ten foot circle of a flag stick that is 125 yards from where I am standing.  Do you hear the difference?

Do not forget my golf deliberate practice example as you help your coachees commit to new practice.  Specific, detailed, and highly focused intended results are the very essence of both deliberate practice and greatness!

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Monday, May 21st, 2012
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Research Studies Prove Practice is the Key to Greatness

Since Professor K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University’s groundbreaking research in 1993, many scientists have been able to prove that practice is what makes some people better performers and produce the highest results.  Research indicates that across a board spectrum of activities, from medicine to performing arts to sports, people who are the very best at what they do practice more and practice differently than anyone else.

The research focused on something called deliberate practice.  Deliberate practice has a few key characteristics:

  • The practice is detailed about specific techniques
  • The practice was designed to produce a very specific result
  • The practice involved stretching past your current capacity

When I first read about the idea of deliberate practice, I thought it scientifically and empirically validated the very essence of coaching.  As an Executive Coach, I have been focused on helping business leaders identify and practice the specific skills and attitudes they must master to become the best leaders they can be.

The deliberate practice idea also supported the notion that if these leaders could learn how to effectively coach their teams using deliberate practice, they would have a proven recipe for competitive success.  The coaching leader idea now had the statistical support and evidence I needed to sway the logical, numbers-driven CEOs.

Deliberate Practice – Emotional Self Control

Take a breath!


Just a friendly reminder to take a breath and get control of your emotions before they take control of you. Decide who is running the show, you or your emotions. Lack of control can derail your career and affect your relationships outside of work.

Mom’s old adage of “think before you speak,” definitely applies here. There are times when we all wish we had taken a breath before commenting in a meeting, replying to an email, or venting at the water cooler. Just like any other acquired skill you have to practice this so that when faced with a challenge you are able to take a breath and make your Mom proud of the way you handled yourself!

25 Years of Deliberate Practice!

I frequently discuss deliberate practice as the key to success. I’m happy to report that my wife Karen and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this month! A successful (thriving) marriage is a result of many deliberate practices like forgiveness, compassion, support and unconditional love. But I have to say, one of my most treasured and effective deliberate practices in my marriage was suggested by my coach at the time, Steve Hardison. Steve said simply, “ask her how you can be of service to her.” He further explained true service is about giving, it’s not about “commerce”. In other words, don’t provide service with a mindset of, “if I do this for you I expect you to do this for me.”

Those words of wisdom shifted my mindset. It reoriented my conversations with Karen. How can I make your life happier and more fulfilled? What else can I do for you? How else can I serve you as your husband? I truly believe that Steve’s coaching made a huge impact on our marriage. Thank you Steve for that great coaching!

The same concept could be used in most relationships and especially in leadership. How can you serve your team and your organization? What would happen if you asked you key partners in your life; how can I serve you? How can I make your life better?

That’s what is referred to as servant leadership a term coined and defined by Robert Greenleaf.

When you can really take a servant mindset with others it will propel your relationships effectiveness and satisfaction to a new level.

Thank you Karen for a wonderful 25 years and looking forward to the next 25 of serving and supporting each other!

Deliberate Practice – Set Written Goals!

The more I study the top performers, the more I realize success is all about doing the little things consistently.

Larry Fitzgerald just had another amazing season for our Arizona Cardinals. We continue to hear that he practices harder than anyone and he has a series of drills (like catching a ball thrown over his head from behind him) that make him ready to be a superstar on game day.

This month our drill is to get a few written goals for the year. I’m still amazed how many people fail to take this simple step that will make all of the difference. Somehow when our goals get written downput on display and shared with others they start to come into reality!

Write down clear and specific goals for the various areas of your life; business, finances, hobbies, friends, health and spirituality. Give your goals to someone and ask them to be fearless about holding you accountable to be your best in 2012!

As always, send me a copy if you want some free feedback from someone who loves challenging you out of your comfort zone!

Let’s make 2012 a great year by doing the little things very well!  

Master Certified Coach 

Deliberate Practice – Daily Gratitude Practice

Work on one of the most important muscles you can build especially right now in the world we live in – that is GRATITUDE! Start every morning with 2 minutes of gratitude and think of all of the things you have to be grateful for in your life – health, family, friends, job, etc.

Keeping a mindset of gratitude will make such a difference throughout the day as you look at what’s possible and what’s going on in the world. I am convinced that the media is all about what not working – what’s going to keep us upset and frightened. You really have a choice to set your own mindset. Like all mind rituals and practices, the more you do it, the more it will become your fixed perspective on the world. Having a mindset of gratitude will make all the difference!

Reach out to someone you don’t normally connect with or haven’t connected with in a while. Express gratitude to everyone you interact with – flight attendant, mail person, tollbooth worker, etc. Make sure to express gratitude to everyone on your team! Get into the mindset of expressing gratitude to everyone you come in contact with throughout your day. That will make a big difference.


Practice this gratitude ritual the first 2 minutes of every day! Let me know what impact this new practice has on your life.

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
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Deliberate Practice – Be Reflective (Steve Jobs)

Like so many leaders, business people and other human beings, I was spending time in the last 24 hours reflecting upon the life and leadership lessons we could all learn from Steve Jobs. In this 2 minute video I share what I learned.

How can we use what we learned from him to be better leaders and human beings?  He encouraged everyone to follow their heart and their intuition because they already know who you want to become.  That is pretty powerful!  He also tells us to love what you do and it will keep getting better everyday.  Do you love what you do?

Take some time and be reflective on what you could learn from Steve Jobs and how you might use it as a coaching leader to keep getting better.

Deliberate Practice – Be Open to Feedback


This week’s deliberate practice is about being open to feedback.

Last week I was filming my blog in my office (I live and work here with a great client and friend in a company called Park&Co in Phoenix, Arizona). Some of the Park&Co team members came to me after last week’s blog and said, “Hey Coach, come here a minute. We gotta give you some feedback. We would like to see you blow that whistle even louder. Don’t be afraid. Really give it a good blow at the end of your deliberate practice.”

I thought about it. Just like a lot of people in the first couple seconds I thought, “Who the hell are you to be telling me how loud to blow my whistle?” Then I thought about it and thought – that is probably some pretty good feedback.

The deliberate practice is to be open to feedback. Don’t do what a lot of people do and say, Yea, that is a good idea and their eyes and their body language are like kiss my #^%&. Either be open to feedback or don’t, but don’t pretend that you are. So be open to feedback! Create a culture in which everybody can give feedback and be open to new ways of doing things.

Great article this week that talked about mindset.  Great companies, great teams, and great leaders have a mindset for continually getting better.

Let me give a shameless plug.  Park&Co has a space called CoLab just for people who want to work in spaces like this and want to be collaborative.  It’s a great space in Phoenix, Arizona.

Park&Co folks thank you very much!  I know you will be really proud of me when I blow the whistle this week.

Get out there this week and really be open to feedback!

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Thursday, October 6th, 2011
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Deliberate Practice – Finish Strong!


This month’s challenge: Learning how to finish strong in your business.

I don’t know if you have noticed, but golf tournaments are usually won late on Sunday, usually on the back nine.  The same thing with football games; late in the game somebody makes a great play or somebody chokes.

I want to make sure that you learn how to finish strong and not choke.  Come up with 1 or 2 deliberate practices that are going to help you to stay focused and learn how to finish strong.  It could be health, it could be sleeping right, eating right, exercising, having the right mindset, the right energy,  getting/staying organized, or reviewing your business plan or goals daily.

Come up with 1 or 2 deliberate practices to stay focused and learn how to finish strong.  Send me your deliberate practices.  Finish strong and learn how to be a champion!

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
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