Mindset- Deliberate Practice

Mindset – Not Again! Empty the cup and start from the bottom

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

Bruce Lee quote courtesy of brainyquote.com

Zig Ziglar — ‘Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.’


“Repetition is the mother of skill. Deliberate practice makes perfect. We need to master the basic skills first and drill them in to our subconscious. First principals first and then climb on to the next stair case and plateau of learning”

Teaching my son how to count

Not again!! That was the plaintive cry from my five year old son as I taught him basic maths. Yes I told him again count all the way from 0 to 20.

That maths lesson was poignant. We always forget that we have to master the fundamentals by drilling them repeatedly time and time again.

If our teachers and parents had not been insistent most of us would have been illiterate souls wandering aimlessly in this world. That endless drilling worked wonders for us at that age why can’t it work wonders for us in our adult lives.

Bruce Lee

In this day and age only timeless principles can enable you and I to thrive. One of them is to assume the mindset of continual growth and a never ending desire to learn and gain new skill sets and explore new subject areas. The 21st Century like any other century poses challenges with rapidly changing technology and new frontiers to be discovered.

Always study the actions and teachings of the great masters and those who have achieved much they will always point to the few things you need to learn in any discipline. Model their actions and routines carefully.

Bruce Lee the great Kung  Fu Master was reknown for his fighting ability. Bruce started mastering Kung fu at the age of 16. His key life principles were gained at this young age. One of them was to always assume the posture of the beginning student.

He knew in order to learn any skill the basics had to be drilled endlessly and repeatedly. Those who mastered the fundamentals where more deadly than those that had not mastered the fundamentals.


One key aspect about the masters is that they stay humble and will keep relearning the fundamentals. They know there is always a lesson or something to learn from all individuals whatever their status or station in life.

They always start from the beginning.   A judo black belt master will discard all his prior training and start from beginner status when learning another martial skill. They will don the white belt and join the beginners to learn the basics. They understand the importance of mastering the basics.

The Tea Fable

There is a widely told fable about a martial arts instructor who was frustrated by one of his advanced students. He was trying to teach him new concepts but the student was shrugging and ignoring the lessons assuming he already understood the concept.

The master invited the student for a cup of tea. He brought out two cups. He filled the two cups with tea to the brim. The master told the student he wanted to add him more tea. He poured tea out of his own cup to the student’s cup that was already full. The tea started pouring out of the cup to the table.

The student stopped the master and asked him why he kept pouring tea yet his cup was full. The master indicated to him. I wanted to give you more knowledge but your brain is already full. It implies you are not ready to accept or receive any new learning as you assume you have already learnt all concepts.


This lesson can be applied in any learning situation and actually differentiates those who will rise to the top and those that will fall by the wayside.  Listen to your intuition carefully and approach learning as a fresh student.

Study those who are very skilled in any discipline. The professionals stand out from the amateurs in the mastery of the basics. They have a perpetual growth mindset and are always questioning assumptions repeatedly. Some  great examples of achievers are Ronaldo in soccer, Tom Brady American Football, Michael Jordan- Basket ball, Grant Cardone – Sales and Marketing, Bruce Lee –Kung Fu, Michael Jackson – Music,

A First Hand account of Kobe Bryant’s NBA Superstar Work Ethic – A post from Reddit

Team USA was practising for the 2012 Olympics and were stationed in Vegas. One of the team trainers had shared his cell number with Kobe Bryant. He received a call at 4.15 am in the morning. Kobe was asking him to help him with conditioning training. The narrative played out below

I woke up feeling sleepy, drowsy, and almost pretty much every side effect of sleep deprivation. Thanks, Kobe. I had a bagel and headed to the practice facility.’

‘This next part I remember very vividly. All the Team USA players were there, feeling good for the first scrimmage. LeBron was talking to Carmelo if I remember correctly, and Coach Krzyzewski was trying to explain something to Kevin Durant. On the right side of the practice facility was Kobe by himself shooting jumpers. And this is how our next conversation went — I went over to him, patted him on the back and said,

Trainer Rob : “Good work this morning.”‘

Kobe : “Huh?”

Rob : “Like, the conditioning. Good work.”

Kobe : “Oh. Yeah, thanks Rob. I really appreciate it.”

Rob : “So when did you finish?”

Kobe : “Finish what?”

Rob : “Getting your shots up. What time did you leave the facility?”

Kobe : “Oh just now. I wanted 800 makes so yeah, just now.”

The champions  do the simple basics well they practice harder than the rest, repeat the fundamentals endlessly, shun mediocrity and aim to win always.

The champions start from first principles not giving up and always seeking new ways to learn and grow. They never give up on themselves and approach learning afresh.

The greatest are always learning and do not rest on their laurels. They stay hungry.  They seek mentors and gurus in their respective fields. They adopt the student mentality in whatever they do.

Key Takeaway

Deliberate practice makes perfect

Further Reference

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