Deliberate Practice

I’m currently reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It’s a revolutionary book about the power of introverts in a society that seems to only value and promote those who shout the loudest. I’m definitely more of an introvert (perhaps ambivert is more accurate because I have my moments), and although I accept and value my quieter personality (which was suddenly highlighted when I did things in the past like the year of training in youth ministry – “try to be more like Vicky!” – and when learning to teach aerobics – “you need to be louder!”), the book has encouraged me even more to accept my creative, quieter, thoughtful, reflective personality that is sensitive to others and to my environment because it is immensely valuable! Now I know why my primary school teacher chose me to buddy and befriend a nervous new pupil, who I’m still friends with now.

In a particular workplace full of loud people where I was basically overlooked in favour of party girls, I’m actually still in touch with a couple of colleagues over 10 years on, who felt I actually had time for them. When I worked at a London university for 6 months, the managers were really pleased with how I dealt sensitively with the students…and their demanding parents. In the charity HR I work in now, I have found my personality to be a positive thing as we deal with ups, downs, births, deaths, mental health, difficult conversations, confidential info and everything else. And as a Christian, I believe every personality is valuable to God. I mean imagine if everyone was the same, right?

In her book, Susan Cain names loads of introverts who did amazing things and changed the world because of rather than in spite of their personalities, so if you fall somewhere on the introvert scale and have been made to feel like there’s something wrong with that, be encouraged by people like Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Stephen Spielberg, JK Rowling, Mark Zuckerberg (despite how you feel about Facebook LOL), Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Charles Darwin, Barack Obama, plus many, many dancers, comedians, musicians, actors, singers…there are so many people, I don’t have space to list them all 🙂

Anyway, the main reason I mention this book is that one of the chapters talks about the concept of ‘Deliberate Practice’, which immediately caught my attention. The author looks references a study into 3 groups of violinists at an elite music school in Berlin (best, good and those who only wish to teach), but I was interested in relation to tap dance. Deliberate Practice is described as “serious study alone” and the “key to exceptional achievement”. In other words, if you want to be an amazing tap dancer, you’ve got to practise on your own…a lot. (The lowest group of violinists put in 1.3 solitary hours a day, whereas the top-level violinists put in 3.5 solitary hours a day and regarded group practice as leisure).

A few of the guests we had on the ‘Tap & Tea’ history talks last year posed the question ‘how much class is too much class?‘ – i.e. you can take all the tap classes going but still not show any improvement because you’re not taking the time to put the work in on your own. I know my real improvements in tap came when I actually spent the time in my garage studio, in front of the mirror going over and over things until I got them…and then refined and cleaned them up. (It’s not that I spent 3.5 hours shedding wood in one go, but even the 40 minutes spent on a Saturday afternoon make a massive difference in what I bring to my next class).

“When you practice deliberately, you identify the tasks…just out of your reach…,strive to upgrade your performance, monitor your progress and revise accordingly” Quiet, pg81

Have you read the book? Are you an introvert? What do you think about ‘Deliberate Practice’ in relation to tap, or perhaps other styles of dance?  Let me know in the comments 🙂

 

Blah blah blah

Newsflash: I did NOT attend Move It 2019 on Friday, even though I had tickets!

I’ve been going to this huge dance exhibition in London every year since the mid 2000s, but I ended up being unwell last week, plus I had 2 days of a 4-day Essential Oils course over the weekend, so I decided to stay local.

The essential oils course was good on the whole (lots of lovely scents!), but because it was only a group of 4 students, 2 of the ladies who came together ended up dominating the sessions, interrupting with endless questions, many of which weren’t particularly relevant to the whole group, which led to the tutor replying almost every time with a 20 minute explanation.

To top it off, I was told at the end of the second day in front of the others that I am ‘the quiet one of the group’ and need to express myself more…So with that I was made to feel extremely self-conscious and like there’s something wrong with me.

Well hear this: THIS IS ME!

I’m not an extrovert, but I’m not completely introverted either. I believe the term is ambivert (somewhere between the two). I make conversation easily with people, I’ll strike up conversations on the train platform and I express myself through dance and the written word, but I am also drained by too much people interaction (Christmas anyone?).

This is me!

I grew up with two older brothers who dominated the conversation at the dinner table. My mum also talks a lot! Being the youngest, no one was asking my opinion. My default became to listen and observe.

I am not an outward processor, I take a bit longer to absorb and process the information being taught and any questions I have tend to come to me later after I’ve had time to think. (Actually I did ask relevant questions and took part in all aspects, but I didn’t want to interrupt the tutor mid-flow because I was trying to listen and understand). My personality suits my job in dealing with people sensitively and they know I’m not going to blab what they’ve told me to everyone in earshot.

Something I’ve come to realise is that:

  1. Many people cannot stand silence
  2. Those who tend to call you quiet do so because you’re not saying anything…to trigger them to talk endlessly about themselves.

What I would have preferred is a set time for questions at the end of each day instead of the constant tangents throughout the day that were not reined in by the tutor.

Anyway, I feel like I’ve learned what I wanted to know about using essential oils safely in my soap biz side gig, so I’m calling it a day and getting back to focusing on rhythm tap, writing and completing my ongoing human resources studies!

Have you ever felt like people are criticising your personality? Have you been told you’re too quiet? Too loud? Aggressive? Passive? Passive-aggressive?! Please do comment below.