Are you all familiar with Sun Tzu? If not, he was an ancient Chinese military general who was born around 550BC. He was also an incredible strategist and philosopher who is credited as the author of the famous book
The Art of War, an influential Chinese book on military strategy. So why discuss an ancient Chinese general/philosopher who was born some 2,500 years ago? Well, quite frankly, his philosophy is brilliant and timeless. Let’s take one of the chapters from The Art of War:
“Every battle is won or lost before it is fought.” How perfect are those 10 words? We’ve undoubtedly all heard the above thought in countless different ways throughout our life – “practice makes perfect” or “the will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.” And in my opinion, there is no better piece of advice than the above nugget that Sun Tzu expressed in his book. This advice should be applied to every aspect of our lives. It is no coincidence that Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning are some of the greatest athletes to ever play their sports – they are also known for their relentless and obsessive practice and preparation habits. The best people in any field are those who devote and sacrifice the most time precise and deliberate practice. If you are a basketball player it’s not just going out and casually shooting 200 jump shots – it’s going out and practicing with a specific goal and then monitoring that goal overtime – that’s the type of precise practice required to improve. Need some tangible evidence for the important of practice?
According to brilliant psychologist K. Anders Ericsson “Elite performers in many divers domains have been found to practice for hours each day, on the average, roughly the same amount each and every day.” Ericsson also did a study on this topic observing elite 20-year old violinists. In his observations the top tier violinists averaged 10K hours of practice over their lives and the second best group averaged 7.5K hours and so on… In summary, if you want to excel at anything, you have to practice. If you don’t practice efficiently and really put in the work prior to a big game or match…you are likely going to lose that game or match. We all are blessed with abilities and have certain strengths, but at some point, we reach a level where it is vital to practice to improve those skills or we become stagnant. And to be stagnant, well, is unacceptable. Take control of your life and go out and work to improve YOU.