Development of Expertise

Just Begin

“You will never win if you never begin.” – Helen Rowland


Persistence and Motivation

An excerpt from How To Become The Best at Anything, Chapter 9, Persistence, Motivation, and More About Your Path

“Keep practicing no matter what. It will take years, you know this, so you have to keep practicing. You have to keep practicing getting better every time you practice. This is a very hard thing to do. You will get tired, bored, and frustrated. It is hard to keep your focus while practicing.

I heard a story about John Wooden (often considered one of the greatest college basketball coaches, ever) while I was a student at UCLA. During practice one of the basketball players was not practicing very hard. John Wooden pulled him aside and asked the player what was wrong. He was only working at 70%. He told his coach he was very tired and that he would give 200% at the next practice. Wooden said, one can only give 100% at any given time, so go out there and give me 100% today, tomorrow, and the next day. The player went out and gave 100% for the rest of practice. You have to give 100% every time you practice.

The motivation to keep practicing and to practice 100% of the time to get better is probably the key to becoming the best. This is probably the hardest thing to do. You have to be motivated for years and over 10,000 hours of practice.”


How Motivation Works

“Basically, there are two types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation come from an outside source and intrinsic motivation comes from inside you. (To help you remember, Extrinsic, Ex = Exit = motivation from outside, Intrinsic, In = Inside = motivation from inside.)

Extrinsic motivation is like when your mother bribed you as a child with candy to do something. Receiving candy was your extrinsic motivation to do what your mother wanted you to do.

When you try something new and you receive praise from someone you value, this is extrinsic motivation to continue practicing. A child has been watching her father play the piano. The child sits down at the piano and plays a few notes. The father praises the child. The child feels good and is motivated to play more.

Sometime later the child has grown to love playing the piano for the joy it brings her. She no longer needs the praise from a parent, teacher, or friend. She loves playing for the satisfying feeling it gives her inside.

Intrinsic motivation is when you want to do something because YOU really want to do it, not because someone else wants you to do it. This is the kind of motivation you need to become the best.

You need to be very passionate about what you want to become in order to become the best. This passion will be your intrinsic motivation that will drive you to keep going and keep practicing even when a part of you wants to quit.”