Oct 26, 2023: Deliberate Practice

Lisi Lake – Tbilisi, Georgia – 10:30pm

After a lovely massage and facial at Sole this morning, I tried some shrimp and crab maki and tamago rolls at Sushi.ge. They even gave me an extra set of crab maki as a gift – how nice and unexpected!

I had a mountain biking lesson booked for this afternoon. We started around 2:30pm. This time, I learned with Davit from Georiders and he taught me about braking. Before the lesson, I think my default way of braking was to always brake mostly with my rear brake, and only slightly with my front brake because I thought that going too hard on the front brake would flip you over. However, Davit said that that was wrong, since relying on the rear brake would only slow the bike down, not stop it, and also would give you less control over the steering since your back wheel would be skidding out. He gave me some exercises where I had to go downhill using only the front brake, and then subsequently only the rear brake, and then applying both brakes to different amounts. The drills were meant to get me to overcome any fear or reservation about using the front brake, and to familiarize myself with the feelings of different brake combinations. This is because when going over holes or dips in the ground, there’s a specific way of braking that needs to be mastered to be most efficient. This was all pretty interesting to think about. As Davit said, just because someone knows how to ride a bike does not mean they actually know how to ride a bike. Apparently a lot of people ride bikes wrongly (inefficiently, and actually dangerously in a downhill setting) but don’t realize it.

Overall, it was a fun, informative lesson and we got to do it surrounded by the beauty of fall foliage. The trees were vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. I love going to Lisi Lake. It’s so beautiful and peaceful there. The lesson ended around 4pm (about 1 and a half hours).

Afterwards, I went to Charlie cafe right by the lake. It was a cool spot, with lots of outdoor seating surrounded by trees and a shrouded view of the lake. They also played piano music on the outdoor speakers, so that got me into focus mode. I spent a little over an hour reading an article about deliberate practice in a (bad) Irish accent.

It was interesting to learn that what many of us think of as practice was not truly practice, at least in the deliberate sense. Deliberate practice is a concept that I knew by intuition but it was good to see it more fully fleshed out and articulated. Deliberate practice is not actually fun, and it is not simply about repetition or doing something over and over again. It is about being highly focused and intentional about what you repeat, and about fine-tuning your ability in that one area or aspect with specific, focused feedback provided after every practice session so that you can take measured steps towards improvement and progress. Doing the same thing over and over without a plan and without using the mind is not deliberate practice because you don’t get better in any strategic way; it’s like throwing the batter at the wall and seeing what sticks. Also, deliberate practice works on activities in the “learning zone,” activities that you need improvement on, not things that you already know how to do well and consistently. Many people, myself included, work on the same things, just maintaining performance at the level they already are good at, at the level of automation even, but then lose out on their potential to make bigger gains and tackle their weaknesses. According to deliberate practice, focus and concentration make the biggest difference in creating a successful practice, not simply brute strength and physical determination. This reminds me what my violin/drums teacher Temo said about being able to physically play the violin for 5 hours at one go, but his mind tiring first. It makes sense; the limit of your progress has more to do with your mind than your body, more often than not.

“Practice with your fingers and you need all day. Practice with your mind and you will do as much in one and a half hours.”

Leopard Auer, musician

Also, interestingly, deliberate practice is not about getting to the point of automaticity — in fact, it’s the complete opposite, where deliberate practice is done specifically to avoid automaticity, so that even at the highest level of performance, the craft is intentional and thought through, not complacent. The mind is switched on, not off.

I’d brought my roller skates to Lisi Lake, so around 5:30pm, I put them on and skated one loop around the lake. It took me 30 minutes on skates, as opposed to 45 minutes by walking without hurry. I think it’s about 3km around the lake. I felt so rusty on my skates! I wasn’t really that confident on them, and several times, a couple small pebbles on the pathway nearly took me out. By the end, after warming up, there were some stints when I felt like I got into a flow and rhythm. I should definitely practice on my skates more. I probably won’t bring my skates again to Lisi Lake because the pathway wasn’t as smooth as I thought, so it wasn’t as easy to skate. I should really bring my skates to the skate park at Mziuri park because it’s such a cool skate park.

I really want to harness my focus better. I’m *supposed* to be working on my novellas more especially with the Halloween deadline looming… Instead, I just keep getting distracted by (really, it’s procrastination) various other activities, classes and performances that I want to attend. I need to just eliminate all the non-priorities and focus on my own writing for a while.

Unfortunately, I do have a drums performance coming up on Saturday (it’s just a small recital in front of the other students and their parents, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure I’ll be nervous, but it will be good practice to just get more comfortable performing in front of a live audience). And I might (well, I hope) try my first stand-up performance at the expat stand-up comedy night at World’s End Bar on Sunday. Fingers crossed I woman up and go for it, because I truly think I’ll have fun if I can get over the nerves. I’ll be really proud of myself, even if I stumble and mess up. Truthfully, sure, getting some laughs out of people will be great — but I’d actually be prouder of myself if I can get over the need to people-please and be secure in myself even if I can’t secure the laughs. Even if I bomb. Because that shows an ability to overcome the fear of humiliation and just have faith in myself and my abilities. I think I have some good joke ideas — I just need to perfect the structure and writing of the jokes, and of course the delivery!

G’night world,


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