I set our alarm for 6. I usually get up. In fact, even when I don’t set our alarm for 6, I still wake up.
I started doing this several months ago. I wanted to read. I wanted to write. I wanted to learn to use time to influence lives.
And so I get up at 6.
Sometimes, I talk about that itself as if it is an amazing feat. But it isn’t.
Some mornings I get up and spend an hour looking at my computer screen. I browse through articles that have been gathered for me from 138 other writers. I read short comments made by more than 100 of my friends. I read what people have sent me directly by email. I follow connections made in all of those places to other articles, other people.
In my fogginess, as I drink my first cup of coffee for the day, it seems as if I am doing something useful. I may be. I sometimes find things that are helpful for understanding what is going on in the lives of others. I often am able to write to someone, to encourage someone.
Most of the time this random skimming is just random skimming.
Sometimes, the night before I have made a list: Here are the things I am not going to do in the morning. Here are the things I am going to do.
I’m not going to look at the articles from 138 people. I am going to read from the book of Isaiah. I’m not going to look at whatever comes to me. I am going to reflect on that idea I’ve been working on. I am going to send a note to my friend. I am going to write a short essay about that subject.
And on the mornings when I get up at 6 and work through that kind of list, I am doing something.
I am learning step by step how to use time to influence lives. Starting with mine.
Getting up at 6 to be up for an hour, that is practice.
Getting up at 6 and working through a specific list of activities designed to sharpen my mind and heart and soul and pencil, that is deliberate practice.
[Deliberate practice] is activity designed specifically to improve performance, often with a teacher’s help; it can be repeated a lot; feedback on results is continuously available; it’s highly demanding mentally, whether the activity is purely intellectual, such as chess or business-related activities, or heavily physical, such as sports; and it isn’t much fun.
Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, page 66.
Just getting up at six is like a kid who sits at the piano for a thirty minutes, counting every moment his seat is on the bench as practice. Working on the hard parts is like the musician who each day works on the part of paying scales that was hard yesterday.
Does that make sense, my daily coaches and feedback providers? Does that help illustrate deliberate practice?