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Saravanan B

Are you the master of your trade? - Part 1

“Think of it this way: There are two kinds of failure. The first comes from never trying out your ideas because you are afraid, or because you are waiting for the perfect time. This kind of failure you can never learn from and such timidity will destroy you. The second kind comes from a bold and venturesome spirit. If you fail in this way, the hit that you take to your reputation is greatly outweighed by what you learn. Repeated failure will toughen your spirit and show you with absolute clarity how things must be done.” 
― Robert GreeneMastery

Eminent personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Sarojini Naidu, etc. are known for their excellence in performing something. These personalities have one thing in common, i.e., 'Mastery' in doing things. If they can attain mastery in specific fields, so do you. However, there is no one way to accomplish this. Numerous studies in the field of Psychology has come up with fascinating findings on how an individual attains expertise in a particular area or an activity.

Ericson and his colleagues in their pursuit of finding - "What makes one a master of his field?" - They found that "Deliberate practice" was an essential factor that played a pivotal role in creating experts. Deliberate practice can be defined as a type of method that requires focused attention to an activity with a specific goal for improving our performance (Ericsson, K. A et al., 1993). It was a notable fact that renowned athletes like Michael Jordon, Sachin Tendulkar, Tiger Woods, etc. tend to practice deliberately by receiving continuous feedback for improving their performance. To confirm this, Malcolm Gladwell in his book - "The outliers" -  highlighted the power of 10,000 hours of practice in a particular field, area, or an activity. A myriad of studies has also confirmed to this fact.

As individuals, there are certain things that we can implement in our lives to attain mastery in what we do. Importantly, practising deliberately by receiving continuous feedback for improving performance. As the level of practice increases, an individual should keep correcting mistakes by inculcating the constructive feedback received (Ericsson, K. A et al., 2002; Ericsson, K. A et al., 2006)

Some of the common traits of expert performance as follows,

  1. Expertise is domain specific
  2. Experts are good at pattern recognition in their respective fields
  3. Experts solve problems faster than the amateurs
  4. Experts tend to have an exceptional short term and long term memory
  5. Experts tend to have heightened level of awareness about the errors that they are making
  6. Experts tend to focus on solving problems qualitatively
  7. Experts tend to deep dive into the surface of the problem in contract to novices who explain it literally

The traits mentioned above are observed in the field of Medicine, Engineering, and Sciences. Moreover, these traits are also exhibited by people in games like Chess, Rubic Cube, and so on where players tend to have limited time for solving a problem.

As Sun Tzu, "The journey of thousand miles begins with a single step." Your journey of becoming a master of a trade begins with continuous practice filled with passion for doing things. 

Please feel free to share your views on attaining mastery in a particular activity.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog.



Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review100(3), 363.

Ericsson, K. A. (2002). Attaining excellence through deliberate practice: Insights from the study of expert performance. Teaching and learning: The essential readings, 4-37.

Ericsson, K. A. (2006). The influence of experience and deliberate practice in the development of superior expert performance. The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance38, 685-705.

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