Thursday, January 8, 2009

Deliberate Practice, Expert Coaching, and Enthusiastic Support


Have you ever met a STAR?

I have. Of course he wasn’t exactly a STAR when I met him.

Oh, he was well enough known at the time to young rock fans in Michigan, but not the biggest STAR even in that little niche.

The STAR was Bob Seger. This was the late 1960’s, long before the Silver Bullet Band. Long before his massive hits in soundtracks of movies like Beverly Hills Cop. Long before Risky Business when Tom Cruise took one of Seger’s old records off the shelf and danced in his tighty-whities.

I was in charge of securing acts for our dances and concerts. I was also the guy who paid those bands.

Before one of those concerts I was talking to Bob. I mentioned to him how we had to cancel a dance in the Union a week earlier when a local band canceled. Bob said, “You should have called me.”

Even then the Bob Seger System (that was his band’s name at that time) cost way more than we would make at a “sock-hop”. So I said, “Bob, you would have cost too much.”

At that Bob Seger wrote down his home phone number on a flyer and told me, “If that happens again call me at home. DO NOT CALL MY BOOKING AGENT! If I have the date open I’ll play the gig if you give me enough to pay my band and my gas to get here.” He then quoted me a price that was about the same as a local band and WAY less then his usual fee.

Stupidly, I then asked him why. “Bob, why would you do that?”

I'll never forget his answer. He said, “Look, I love to work. Doing gigs like that let’s me try out new stuff. I'd play my music for people all day and all night everyday if I could.”

Remember he only asked for enough to pay his band and for gas for his van. Bob Seger was willing to play for FREE just for the opportunity to play for an audience.

No wonder I had seen The Seger System at concert after concert and dance after dance. Bob Seger played (not just practiced) every night he could get himself in front of an audience.

In a couple of years after that Seger moved out to California and in about 5 or 6 years –BOOM - he became an overnight success.

Bob Seger knew the key to getting better, the key to success. Deliberate practice.

Practice with a goal of getting better in specific ways each time you practice.

Some other keys to success include expert coaching, to help you design and evaluate your practices. Enthusiastic support, and motivation, what Bob Seger might call the fire down below.

To find out more check out the book Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. Also, Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers.




Also search for the work of Dr. Anders Ericsson online, especially The Making of an Expert and The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. These are outstanding articles.

Remember, use deliberate practice, seek expert coaching, find people who will give you enthusiastic support, and get motivated.

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