Deliberate Practice

About the featured image:

Every day I walk — I’ve walked at least 5 miles a day for 416 days in a row (yes, I’m a little compulsive) — and every day I snap a photo of something. Sometimes I post the photo at Instagram with #gratitude. I’d like to get more consistent about this, and make gratitude, like walking and writing, a daily practice.

Skill, surgeons believe, can be taught. Tenacity cannot….There have now been many studies of elite performers — concert violinists, chess grand masters, professional ice-skaters, mathematicians, and so forth — and the biggest difference researchers find between them and lesser performers is the amount of deliberate practice they’ve accumulated. The most important talent might be the talent for practice itself. –Atul Gawande


7 replies
  1. Thelma Burgonio-Watson
    Thelma Burgonio-Watson says:

    Beautiful pictures, as though they were taken in my neighborhood.
    May I share a couple of mine from yesterday.

    I don’t walk as long as you do, only a couple of miles and not everyday.
    I do a deliberate walking meditation and/or forest bathing.
    We live in the woods.
    or “forest-like”.

  2. Colleen Hull Gray
    Colleen Hull Gray says:

    What an amazing streak you have going, Bethany! I am looking forward to more walking after some minor foot surgery next month. In the fierce, infamous Livingston wind.
    I thought of my favorite singer/songwriter, Jason Isbell, when I read your quote on tenacity. I watched an interview George Saunders did with Isbell, and he is relentless in both his music and writing practice – and brilliant.

  3. Loren Webster
    Loren Webster says:

    I’m impressed. I try to walk at least five days a week, 3 miles or so, but I thrive on variety, not so much on routine. I would probably be stronger and healthier if I followed your routine, but I’m more apt to exercise if I can vary my routes and my purpose. As you know, photos definitely inspire me and keep me walking.

    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Loren, a friend is writing a book on aging and creativity — she says 5 days a week and 40 minutes or so is great. I honestly think I need to now work on being less obsessive about it. (I blame Covid-19.) I’ve done a pretty good job of finding trails all over Snohomish County — of course your photographs are SO much better than mine. (I miss my walks at Theler Wetlands.)

  4. Rita
    Rita says:

    I love Atul Gawande’s writing! And walking. I did so much walking when we were more shut down, and I miss it. I do enjoy living vicariously through your photos on Instagram, though. As for practice, I know that when I write and read regularly, I am able to get to a different place with writing. It happens differently, and my product is different. Going back to the classroom has disrupted that for me, and I need to figure out how to get back to it.

    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      I agree — first of all (to look at your last point) teaching takes A LOT of creativity juice. On the other point, I noticed when my children were young (and I had very active, goofy kids — they would not deny this) that writing about my days with them, not whining but describing and cataloguing, really helped me. Thank for this comment. Keep making time for your beautiful writing!


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