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Letter From Lugano

Starting an Online Business: 3. Understanding ‘Deliberate Practice’

James Atkinson - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This is the Hermann Hesse memorial in Montagnola. He lived and worked here for many years.


Deliberate practice is a method for mastery that involves focused, repetitive application in which an individual monitors their performance, experiments, corrects, receives, and applies constant feedback.

To get results, there are four simple basics you need to follow:

  1. Set specific goals,
  2. Practice a lot,
  3. Focus on method as much as on outcome,
  4. Get prompt feedback, and use it.

It’s more than just repetition. It involves a willingness to continuously push yourself beyond what you’ve already achieved.

You need to focus on the specific goals you want to achieve, and use the right strategy and techniques to achieve them.

Your strategy should include specific methods to target your weaknesses.

Ideally, you would be directly instructed in the best strategy by a mentor who also provides you with constructive feedback.

You also need to continuously look for ways to improve your strategy.

For example, a typing skills study shows that typing improvements were often linked to the subjects’ active search for ways to improve performance.

Intriguingly, the top performers shared another characteristic besides hard work: they napped after lunch. Evidently, it’s not the number of practicing hours in the day, but the number of hours you can sustain full concentration.

This is perfect for an eBusiness practitioner – who mostly all work at home.

So the results are in: highly successful performers are made, not born.

My attitude to internet business is that I would rather start by knowing a lot about a few things than a little about a lot of things. In other words, I believe it’s best to go “narrow and deep” rather than “wide and shallow.” Over time, you can expand your range of expertise to include new areas.

Ask yourself:

"Do I have ONE way to drive traffic that works?”


“Do I have ONE way to convert traffic that works?”

It’s a lot better to get solid results from a few methods than to get distracted by ALL the possible methods you could use and never take the time to get really good at just a few things.

My advice to you is build a few strong points that you can really master. Don’t try too many things and end up with a lot of powerful weaknesses.

The challenge with all the marketing hype around is, “How do I choose the ‘strong strengths’ that I want to put deliberate practice into?”

My system is a proven way to break down the big picture goal of “starting an internet business” into specific, achievable steps.

The skills required are timeless and will continue to work in the long term, providing the strongest foundation for building a long-term asset.

If you are constantly distracted by the newest marketing trend, you won’t stay committed to practicing the core skills needed.

You won’t stay with any one thing long enough to master it. And remember, many trends don’t serve your goal to build your business as an asset.

The real online results are being achieved by the people with a relatively small number of specific skills who have engaged in deliberate practice to improve those skills.

In the next few blogs I'll develop this theme further.


Starting an Online Business: 2. How 'Deliberate Practice' Helps You!

James Atkinson - Monday, March 24, 2014

Today's photo is the view of Lugano from my office. It's the second day of Spring and there's not much snow on the mountains.


There is an age-old debate about what makes an individual extremely successful. Science appears to have finally ended the debate.

Research indicates that 'deliberate practice' is the secret ingredient for success - and not 'natural' talent.

Deliberate practice as a methodology uses innovation and feedback to help you constantly improve your skills.

The practical elements of deliberate practice are:

Set goals, practice regularly, focus on technique (e.g. writing skills), & seek prompt feedback from: mentors, prospects, customers, technical & marketing statistics of your web site. LEARN BY DOING - keep going till you get it right.

I'm completely sold on deliberate practice because for me the concept works!

In fact, I have been using elements of it for years - without actually knowing any of the scientific data behind the concept.

There are important lessons for you if you want to put your internet business on a steep upward growth trend.

Jay Abraham, business strategist, writes: "Great marketers are made, not born."

This is in line with the scientific findings on what makes an individual ultra-successful. Scientists have spent over 20 years researching many areas of endeavor to answer this question. The evidence suggests we no longer need to speculate about what makes someone extremely successful.

Researchers tell us we don't require talent, wealth, or have a genius-level IQ to achieve expert performance in our chosen field.

A psychology professor at Florida State University, Anders Ericsson, devoted more than twenty years to the scientific study of what makes people highly successful.

Ericsson's work concludes that deliberate practice is the secret ingredient that takes an individual into the realm of the ultra-successful in ANY field of endeavour.

Deliberate practice is a key to success, whether you're David Beckham, Bill Gates, or Tiger Woods.

This exciting discovery means that almost anyone can achieve success using a form of deliberate practice.

"With the exception of the influence of height and body size in some sports, no characteristic of the brain or body has yet been shown to constrain an individual from reaching an expert level." Dr. Anders Ericsson

Ericsson and colleagues have studied expert performers in a wide range of areas. Their work resulted in a 900-page book, The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, which has paved the way for a harvest of bestsellers that examine the nature of success.

I’m not suggesting you buy this book – it costs US$150 – but the point I want to make is encapsulated in a review of the book that makes a rather startling assertion: the trait we commonly call talent is highly overrated. Or, put another way, expert performers "whether in memory or surgery, ballet or computer programming" are nearly always made, not born. And yes, practice does make perfect." Steven D. Leavitt and Stephen J. Dubner, The New York Times Magazine and authors of Freakonomics.

Dr. Ericsson says a lot of people believe there are some inherent limits they were born with. But there is no hard evidence that anyone can attain any kind of exceptional performance without spending a lot of time perfecting it!

In the next blog I am going to look a little further into Deliberate Practice and provide some graphic help.