In an article published in Psychology Today: ‘How to Become an Expert,’ Dr Carl Beuke asks what we can learn from world-class performers. Dr Beuke reaches the conclusion that individuals identified as ‘ordinary,’ rather than talented, can become exceptional performers, provided they receive the right training, and provided they are willing to focus heavily on extensive practice. 

He argues that obsessive practice, of the right kind, can even take us even another step further. It can help us to overcome talent plateaus. His key idea is a profound one:

Practice does not always make perfect. Practice makes permanent. 

Thus, when most people reach a reasonable level of performance talent, they actually stop looking for ways to improve. They become ‘good enough.’ They have practiced so much that their level of ability essentially becomes automatic, and then permanent, and they then fail to change or to grow any further. 

The ‘rage to master,’ which is an obsessive desire to improve, helps true pinnacle level performers to transcend mere competence – that stalling curse of ‘good enough’ – and implies that they learn, seek, try, rehearse, discover, practice and in every way, express greater ‘rage’ to be the best. 

So get awkward

In practical terms, to become better at anything, you must consistently make yourself uncomfortable. Push your own boundaries. When anything becomes automatic and unthinking, when it becomes easy, you must find ways to make it harder again, in order to force your brain to concentrate and truly work at the task. The brain naturally seeks to conserve energy, and therefore prefers activities that are low requirement; activities that it has performed a thousand times before, and can therefore carry out effortlessly. To become a genuine expert, you must continually betray your brain, raise the bar and force it to try harder. Make it concentrate again, rather than running on automatic. 

Take the example of increasing your talent at the act of driving a car. If the act has become automatic, challenge yourself to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do: parallel parking, if you tend to park nose-first; drifting around a track, if you’ve never tried it. These things force the brain to concentrate again, thus compelling the new circuitry necessary for talent.


Douglas Kruger is a professional speaker and business author, published by Penguin. See him in action, or sign up for his motivational newsletter, at Douglas is available to speak at your next conference or event.