The more I practice the luckier I get!


Even the top sports people practice their skills to master them. Johnny Wilkinson practices kicking all day, people used to say to him imagine you are aiming for a barn door, his coach then told him to aim for the key hole! So he practiced for hours every day to hit the key hole. After every competitive golf match Monty used to hit 100 four foot puts in a row, his target was to hole them all. If he got to 99 and missed he would start again from 1 until he holed the 100 in a row.

Olympic athletes take practice to the next level, training and practicing their skills in the cold and dark winter nights for four years, maybe to run a race for 19 seconds or to make 3 jumps.

If you’ve ever looked at famous players like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, or Bruce Lee, these people were the masters of their game. But as non-human as they may seem to us, they all started from the beginning and they weren’t always the best when they started out either. Nobody is. But there are people who excel faster than others when mastering a new skill. In fact, the secret isn’t so complex. It is practice.

Granny Band - Perform - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

It is just as important to practice even when we have mastered a skill. In the early stages it is all about forming new habits or new pathways in your brain. Imagine walking through a previously unexplored forest, if you are followed by two hundred people, the pathway becomes much clearer. In the same way, pathways and patterns of behaviour are developed in your brain. Practice is crucial in the formation of new habits.

In a passage from Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell writes:

The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.

I can totally hear you screaming, “ten thousand hours?” That’s the number that experts say it takes to reach true mastery. But that doesn’t mean that you need to be the next Bill Gates or Mozart in order to become a master at it. You do however need to practice at a skill enough times until it seems perfect to you.


Sean Spugin - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Blue Sky Performance Improvement


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4 Responses to “The more I practice the luckier I get!”

  1. peterphelps1960 Says:

    Ten thousand hours looks like a suspiciously arbitrary figure to me! I’m curious as to how they came to that figure, and in which contexts they’re applying it.

  2. seanatbluesky Says:


    Good question and was my initial reaction to the research. The figure comes out of Malcolm Gladwells book ‘Outliers’, which is well worth a read as is ‘Tipping Point’. The quickest way I would say to answer the question is to have a listen to Gladwell talking about the book –

  3. Steve Bent Says:

    Good piece Sean – nicely summarised! 🙂

    “Bounce” – Matthew Syed is a really great read and for me progresses the concept from Outliers, Talent is overrated et al and makes it even more tangible.

    Its had a positive impact on my clients results…and a couple of my parenting choices!!

  4. Rickie Says:

    Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing
    a few months of hard work due to no backup. Do
    you have any solutions to stop hackers?

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