The Myth of Practice

And the Key to Improvement


We have been told our whole lives that the only way to get better at something is to practice. Do it over and over and over again until eventually you’re good at it. “Practice makes perfect.” Goes the old adage, but that is simply not true. Though perfection takes practice, the best to improve is by learning about what you’re doing.

Studying yields quick improvement compared to the grueling, repetitive task of practice. Cave painters of ancient times could practice their art all day, every day and without any works to study, would never be as skilled as a renaissance painter. Studying allows you to reap the benefits of other peoples practice compounded over all of human history. Also, its easier to study now than it has been at any other point in time. There seems to be an endless supply of instructional videos on any topic for free on Youtube. Adding some educational videos about a hobby into your consumption can help you get better with virtually no effort.

Practice is also risky. Bad habits are hard to shake off, and when practicing, they may be repeated and worsened. If you practice without knowing how you need to improve, you will never improve. That being said it is still important to practice so long as you are guided by study and learning as well.