The Recipe for Becoming 10X Better

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

Two years back, I wrote a post headlined “This is how you achieve PEAK Performance.Many of you loved it. In case you had missed it (or don’t recollect it), I would encourage you to read it now. This post focused on introducing the concept of achieving peak performance and excellence through practice and explained the 3 types of Practice (Naïve, Purposeful and Deliberate). This post hopes to help you take a step towards achieving Peak Performance by implementing (the most powerful form) Deliberate Practice in your business and life.

What is Deliberate Practice?”, you may wonder.

Deliberate Practice is the Gold standard of Practice used by athletes, sportsmen, and performing art professionals. This is a very structured way of doing things from the things you eat, to how well you sleep, to how you learn, practice, rest and countless other things.

Swedish Psychologist, Professor, Researcher and Author K Anders Ericsson is credited for the concept of deliberate practice. In the book (by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool) “Peak – How all of us can achieve extraordinary Things”, the authors write “In the most highly developed fields – the ones that have benefited from many decades or even centuries of steady improvement, with each generation passing on the lessons and skills it has learned to the next – the approach to individualized practice is amazingly uniform.

No matter where you look – musical performance, ballet or sports – you will find that training follows a very similar set of principles.”

The same is the case with medical training. How does one become a world class Heart Surgeon?

Anyone today wishing to become a world class surgeon will not only require training but deliberate practice.

Does Deliberate Practice apply to our industry/profession?

It absolutely does.

The authors write “First, Deliberate Practice requires a field that is already reasonably well developed- that is, a field in which the best performers have attained a level of performance that clearly sets them apart. Our industry/profession checks this box well.

Second, Deliberate Practice requires a teacher/coach who can provide activities designed to help a student improve his or her performance.” The key here is that the coach must have an understanding of what great looks like and what these expert performers do to excel.

Call it Serendipity or something, as I was writing this post, I came across a podcast episode “The Five Step Framework for Growing Your Business through Deliberate Practice.” In this episode, Craig Wortmann, a Professor at North-western University’s Kellogg School of Management, discusses how we (financial professionals) can emulate the way elite athletes and artists enhance performance through deliberate practice.

Before I write about the 5 steps Craig shared in the podcast, it is important to understand that Deliberate Practice is guided by the following principles –

  1. Deliberate practice develops skills that other people have already figured out how to do and for which effective training techniques have been established. The practice regimen should be designed and overseen by a teacher/coach who is familiar with the abilities of expert performers and with how those abilities can be best developed. This is super important. Please read the line marked in bold again.
  2. Deliberate practice takes place outside one’s comfort zone and requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond his or her current abilities.
  3. Deliberate practice involves well defined and specific goals. It is not aimed at some vague overall improvement.
    Like athletes and surgeons, we can implement world class practices to achieve very specific goals such as –
    • Build a valuable firm (that clients love)
    • Grow by Z% for the next 5 years
    • Grow AUM from Rs. A Crore to Rs. Z Crore in 3 years
    • Add 50 Ideal Clients in the next 2 years
    • Grow the SIP Book from X to Y
    • Improve Conversion by A%
    • Get 100 Referrals in the next 180 days
  4. Deliberate practice involves feedback and modification of efforts in response to that feedback.

Craig’s 5 steps are a function of the above principles of deliberate practice. The 5 steps are

  1. We need to have a specific goal. We need to have metrics by which we track progress towards our goals, and we need a plan to make progress. This is the step most executives underestimate or do not pay a lot of attention to. They think they know it and thus do not spend enough time here and make concrete and specific.
  2. A willingness to get out of your comfort zone.
  3. We have to have a drive to do things differently not just harder.
  4. We must have coaches and these coaches must have a mental representation of what great looks like.
  5. We need continuous feedback.

Where do you think most people go wrong here?

Not getting specific or concrete about the plan and actions. Another one is selecting someone as a coach who has never done this before or has been average.  Getting the right coach is super important. The coach must be committed to excellence and must know what world class or the gold standard in our profession globally looks like.

Craig says “Athletes are surrounded by coaches. They have a strength coach, stretching coach, strategy coach, mindset coach, nutrition coach and so on.” The elite professionals invest in coaches. Even CEOs have executive coaches. A fantastic coach is not an expense. He/She is an investment.

You will need a Real one if you ever think of implementing Deliberate Practice.

We have all heard the Cliché “Practice Makes Perfect.” We have also heard the Vince Lombardi quote “Practice does not make perfect. Only Perfect Practice makes perfect.” My bet is on Deliberate Practice Makes Perfect.

What about you?