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Practicing Your Craft

I remembering reading in some book-- maybe it was Mastery by George Leonard-- that experienced doctors generally aren't better than brand new doctors. The implication, the book explained, was that practice by itself wasn't enough for improvement. To actually get better, you need a specific type of practice: the kind of practice where you're actually consciously trying to improve.

That idea stuck with me. When you think about it, practice isn't really any different than just doing something and deciding it's practice. Practicing the violin is the same as just standing there and playing the violin. At the same time, this means that everything we doing throughout our normal days could be considered practice. But is it the kind of practice that hones our skills?

When I first had this idea, I decided that everything I did would be practice, and that I would always try to make sure that it was the practice that makes me better at things. When I ride my motorcycle, for example, I consciously try to make smoother shifts every time I ride. When I write a post, I try to write it better than I would have last week. Even when I slice bananas for my sandwiches, I try to make the slices more uniform each time.

Some of these improvements, like writing, are important. Others, like my enviable banana slicing abilities, are useless. That's not the point, though. If you practice practicing even the little things, when you start some new important thing you'll be trained to practice it in such a way that you'll get better at it.

Why I'll Be Writing Every Day For Two Years

"Are you kidding me? I've been telling everybody that you write a blog post every single day!"

Sebastian just learned that I fell off of my writing-every-single-day habit, and became outraged. One thing led to another, and before you know it, we'd shaken hands and a bet was made. Both of us will be writing a blog post every single day for the next two years. I can say that with certainty, because we've also bet $10,000 on it.

There are some bets you make because you think that you have an advantage and you can exploit it to make money. This isn't one of those bets. Writing every day for two years is incredibly hard, and I don't think that I have an advantage over Sebastian. He's just as likely to be able to complete this as I am.

I'm willing to make this bet because it puts me in a situation where I can't fail. I'm not willing to lose $10,000, so my only other option is to succeed by writing every single day. Maybe there's a 2% chance of something weird happening and me losing by accident, but if that's true, than the expected value of this bet is a loss of only $200. In return for that, I get a 98% chance of having 730 blog posts in the can, and the improvements in my writing that go along with that.

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