Why Do Some Amateurs Never Become Experts?

Have you ever noticed that some people can’t seem to make the jump from amateur to expert? There’s usually a single reason why…

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Have you ever thought about why experts seem to be constantly progressing and getting better at their craft, while some people remain at the amateur level for life?

Well, there’s actually one thing that separates the experts from the amateurs… and it’s pretty simple. It’s deliberate practice.

Experts not only practice their craft, but they are deliberate in their practice. And just to clarify, here’s what I mean when I say deliberate…

Deliberate practice means:

  • Setting clear goals
  • Working toward those goals every day
  • Embracing failure
  • Getting immediate feedback on your training and progress
  • Making changes if something isn’t working
  • Holding yourself accountable

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, not quite…

How to make your practice deliberate

Let’s go through each of those bullet points to see how you can start to make your practice more deliberate.

Setting clear goals is pretty self-explanatory, but few people actually do it. If you don’t have clear goals to work toward, then you’re just winging it. This is what amateurs do—they wing it! They go through the same day-to-day motions without any plans for progression. That’s a recipe for stagnation.

Working towards those goals every day also seems self-explanatory, but again, few people actually do it. The words “every day” here are key! Experts are working toward their goals every day—on weekends, holidays, rainy days, cold days, it doesn’t matter. Even if it’s a few hours, you need to get into the routine of working towards your goals every single day. Especially when you don’t want to!

Embracing failure is almost a cliché at this point, but it’s yet another thing that separates experts from amateurs. When an amateur fails or makes a mistake, they often get discouraged and give up—or they go back to what feels “safe” to them, meaning they never progress. You can’t expect to progress without hitting any roadblocks or making any mistakes! So, do as the experts do: embrace your failures and mistakes for what they are—learning opportunities—and move forward.

Getting immediate feedback is kind of a secret weapon. When you can get immediate feedback on what you’re doing it allows you to quickly figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Then, you can eliminate the stuff that isn’t working and focus only on what will give you results. If you can’t get feedback, you’re going to be winging it just like all the amateurs.

And the best way to get feedback is by using a coach or mentor. Once again, this is something that all experts do. You don’t see anyone making it to the Olympics without a coach, so how could you expect to become an expert in any other area without some help?

Experts also make changes when things aren’t working. Once again, it sounds self-explanatory, but people often get so stuck in doing things “the way they’ve always done it” that they are unable to recognize when things aren’t working. Then, they’re unable to make changes when they need to. This is something that is easier said than done, and once again, a coach or mentor can help you get out of this rut!

And finally, experts hold themselves accountable. If you’ve read my articles for any length of time, you’re probably tired of me drilling this into you, but it’s incredibly powerful. 

Here’s the reality: human beings are terrible at holding themselves accountable, so you need an accountability partner. You need someone on the outside to keep tabs on what you’re doing and make sure you actually do what you say you’re going to do.

If you don’t have an accountability partner, you’ll inevitably take the easy way out. When things get tough or you don’t want to keep going, you’ll bail out. It’s nothing to be ashamed about, because almost everyone does it. That’s why having a partner that can hold you accountable is perhaps the best thing you can do to become an expert and avoid staying at an amateur level.

Hopefully, a lot of this sounds familiar. The reality is that we’ve all been amateurs. Everyone starts as an amateur, but the people that can stick to the rules listed here are the ones that become experts and remain experts. 

It’s all up to you… Will you stick to these rules and become an expert? Or will you take the easy way out and remain an amateur?

Did this hit close to home? Would you consider yourself an expert or an amateur based on these rules? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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