If we stop learning, we don’t grow. And if we don’t grow, we die. And we don’t want that. Same with our businesses. We need to keep learning:
- Learning about how the business works
- Learning about how to deal with people
- Learning how to solve problems and make decisions
- Learning about how to save money, work smarter, and simplify our businesses.
But there is learning…and there’s deliberate learning. I’ll explain what I mean.
The 10,000 Hour Rule of Learning
You may have read Malcolm Gladwell’s groundbreaking book Outliers: The Story of Success, in which he discusses the 10,000 hour rule. The idea is that you have to practice something (like piano, or growing a business) for 10,000 hours until you master it. Gladwell has had many detractors, and he has since modified his rule, explaining that “The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest.”
I maintain that Gladwell’s rule, in general, is about learning. We learn as we go through those 10,000 hours. I’m learning every day in my business, little things like how to hire or work as a freelancer on Upwork to the most frugal way to get a Word document into an e-book format (I’m still working on that). And I’m learning big things, like how to manage my time between my three businesses and how to manage people I hire.
Deliberate Practice: A Better Way to Learn
One of my favorite learning sources is new books. The best books get me thinking in new directions. I recently found a book that gave me new insights into learning and practice.
In Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool discuss what they call Deliberate Learning. It’s not just practice; you can practice for a long time and never get any better.
When Anders and Pool discuss deliberate practice, they use examples from sports and music, but the concepts work just as well for developing a business and personal development.
So what’s deliberate practice? If you want to deliberately practice something, you need to:
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone, to grow. You can push your body to develop new muscles, for example. You can also push yourself out of your comfort zone with your business, setting goals that are a stretch, but reachable.
- Develop patterns by practice. Getting to your PEAK involves what Ericsson and Pool call “mental representations,” that are patterns held in your long-term memory that allow you to make quick decisions. This is a little bit what the 10,000 hours (or so) are for. You must have lots of experiences to develop those patterns of thought.
Some Examples of Deliberate Practice
Think of learning to drive a car. The more you practice, the more patterns you see, as you have to rely less on conscious effort to move the pedals. Patterns in your field of vision become more familiar – what’s that light in my rear view mirror? Oh, sure, it looks like an ambulance. Got it. Pull over.
I’m learning mahjongg, in part to keep my mind from getting rusty. Mahjongg is all about patterns. There are many tiles, in several different categories. To win, you have to see the patterns in the tiles you receive and select tiles that will get you the winning pattern. It’s tough, but practicing helps me see the patterns.
How Deliberate Practice Works in Your Business
I’m working on deliberate practice in my own business. For example, I tend to make purchase decisions too quickly without thinking, so I am forcing myself to (a) wait 24 hours before purchasing anything, and (b) using that time to check out alternatives and consider whether I really need to make the purchase.
On a larger scale, I’m working on some case studies to look at the processes I went through when starting Frugal Business Secrets, to find some rules of thumb for doing-it-myself or hiring someone.
Another good example of pattern development is your decision-making “muscles.” The more business projects you undertake, the more you will see how the decision-making process works, and you will be able to go to the right decision more quickly and be right in your judgment more often.
Two More Important Learning Steps
Find expert coaches. Just practicing by yourself isn’t enough. You need a coach, someone who can train you in the right way to do things. Your coach shouldn’t just be your brother-in-law who ran a business back in the 80s, but someone experienced and successful, who will take you under his or her wing and teach you the patterns, give you the push beyond your comfort zone.
Keep it up. Just like muscles, you must continually push your business onward and upward. If you stay the same, not pushing your comfort zone, you will slide back into lethargy. And your Frugal Business will slowly sink into just getting by.
How to learn and grow your Frugal Business
Decide: How can I implement this Secret in my business today?
Review: How did this work?
And Learn more from your mistakes.
Continue to learn, with deliberate practice, and watch your Frugal Business grow exponentially.
Here’s to your Frugal Business success!