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KEY 028: How to Practice for Peak Performance

The foundation to achieving your peak performance, as well as more frequent flow states, is based in the type of practice you engage in. Furthermore, there is a myth pervading personal development and elite performance: If you work hard enough and long enough, you will attain greatness.

In reality, taking this approach can lead to a lack of success and deterioration of skills over time. Of course, you need to put in the time; there is no shortcut to excellence. However, if you do not engage in specific types of drills and training, you will not create the necessary neurological changes to become a peak performer.

There are three primary categories of practice:

  • General
  • Purposeful
  • Deliberate.

Engaging in general practice consists of obtaining the rudimentary skills required to perform an activity and then performing it in an automatic nature. For example, you learn basic chords on guitar and play a list of songs you have learned repeatedly.

As mentioned prior, this type of practice not only will not create brain changes that lead to peak performance but can lead to worsening your performance over time.

The Key to Reaching Your Potential

A step beyond general practice is purposeful practice. The basic tenets of purposeful practice are:

  • Well-defined, specific goals
  • Focused attention
  • Immediate feedback
  • Getting outside of one’s comfort zones.

Purposeful Practice helps you reach your potential. Deliberate Practice helps you increase your potential.


By breaking down the task into component parts, you can focus and assess how to increase your proficiency in each area of the activity. Furthermore, challenging yourself to go just outside of your current level of ability causes the brain to generate a new level of homeostasis, which is an increase in your baseline level of skill. 

The Key to Increasing Your Potential

Deliberate practice is a step beyond purposeful practice. Deliberate practice consists of obtaining a coach or mentor who is knowledgeable about what it takes to become elite in that particular field. Moreover, they are proficient in teaching the necessary skills to become a peak performer.

It also requires a field that has accumulated a body of knowledge about what the elite level performers have done differently than everyone else. In addition to creating neuroplasticity, deliberate practice helps you develop more complex mental representations. This has a dual effect: it increases your level of performance; and also aids you in enhanced practice effectiveness. 

It is not enough just to work hard; you need to engage in the right type of activities to achieve your long-term goal of reaching mastery.

Deliberate Practice Changes How You See Challenges

Think of the difference between how a master chess player sees the chessboard versus what you and I see when we look at a chessboard or how a professional coach sees the players positions on the field versus the spectators.

When you've engaged in intentional and deliberate practice, you get to know your skill and your field of study with much greater detail the vast majority of your peers. This allows you to flow through work.

Go Beyond Your Capabilities

No matter what your pursuit or endeavor, if you apply the principles of deliberate practice, you will be well on your way to becoming a peak performer. Remember, obtain someone who can impart the necessary information, develop specific goals, receive immediate feedback, focus intensely, and consistently push yourself just beyond your current level of ability and you will develop abilities you don’t currently possess.

It is not enough just to work hard; you need to engage in the right type of activities to achieve your long-term goal of reaching mastery. 


7 Traits of Deliberate Practice

Discover the unique practice strategies used by the very elite in virtually every field of work. Implement these into your routine and you'll quickly find yourself at the top.

Subscribe to the Key Podcast

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What is The Key?

The KEY to better relationships, improved finances, and achieving peak performance isn't somewhere "out there" in another book, seminar, or training program, it already exists within you. You don't have to go find it, you just have to unlock it... and that's what show you how to do on The Key Podcast.

Paul desmond adams

Personal development coach

purpose | goals | career | relationships | Wellness

Paul is a super high achiever trapped in a misfits body. He's dreamed of and worked towards the highest levels of success, but held back by disorganization, distraction, and procrastination. He's always known what to do but hasn't been able to do what he knows... and it wasn't his fault. 

John hawkins jr, M.S., L.M.H.C.


peak performance strategist

John is a licensed psychotherapist who has helped thousands of people deal with past trauma, addiction, and broken relationships. After years of helping people breakthrough their internal blocks to success, he now realizes most us KNOW what to do, we just don't DO what we know... and it's typically not our fault. 

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Don't Miss The Next Key

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