Deliberate practice – the path to emotional intelligence

Geoff Colvin’s advice in the book “Talent is Overrated” applies as much to the discipline of developing emotional intelligence and changing behaviors as it does to developing any other skill. It’s a must-read for anyone who is serious about developing leadership EQ. The nutshell description of Deliberate Practice:

  1. Deliberate practice is designed specifically to improve performance. The key word is “designed.” The essence of deliberate practice is continually stretching an individual just beyond his or her current abilities. Deliberate practice requires that one identify certain sharply defined elements of performance that need to be improved, and then work intently on them. The great performers isolate remarkably specific aspects of what they do and focus on just those things until they’re improved.
  2. Deliberate practice can be repeated a lot. High repetition is the most important difference between deliberate practice of a task and performing the task for real, when it counts. Two points distinguish deliberate practice from what most of us actually do. One is the choice of a properly demanding activity just beyond our current abilities. The other is the amount of repetition.
  3. Feedback on results is continuously available. In many important situations, a teacher, coach, or mentor is vital for providing crucial feedback.
  4. It’s highly demanding mentally. Deliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. That is what makes it “deliberate,” as distinct from the mindless playing of scales or hitting of tennis balls that most people engage in.


  1. Book Review: Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin – an important book, particularly for salespeople | - September 12, 2013

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