Practice is the best of all instructors.
by George R. Walker
Maynard lived next door. When he wasn’t spinning wrenches at the local Ford garage, he was out in his driveway, hunched over a neighbor’s car.
As a kid I spent hours leaning over a fender, watching him perform what seemed like magic. I thought he could fix anything and peppered him with questions, but his answers always ended with the same admonition: “It takes practice.” That’s not an answer I wanted to hear then and, to be honest, it’s not what I like hearing today. Who wants to practice? Can’t we just skip it and get to the fun stuff?
There are two schools of thought about becoming a master at an art or craft. Both involve practice.
One notion, affirmed by centuries of traditional apprenticeships, says that mastery is less dependent on talent than just putting in the time. Writer Malcolm Gladwell claims it takes around 10,000 hours of practice to reveal the potential hidden in an average person pursuing excellence in a specific area. This would come as no surprise to our ancestors who trained in traditional apprenticeships, beginning at around 13 years old, for five or six years before progressing to journeyman status.
The other approach holds that we make huge strides toward mastery by breaking core skills into bite-sized pieces that can be practiced deliberately over time. Entrepreneur Jim Rohn, no stranger to the concept of success, once wrote, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”
Blog: Read more from George R. Walker on his Design Matters blog.
In Our Store: George Walker’s DVDs “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design: Moldings” and “Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design.”