If it Hurts, You're Doing it Wrong

“If it hurts, do it more often.”

Repetition to improve is a excellent practice. It is important to take step-zero to determine whether the pain is caused from not yet being fit to perform that action or if the action is actually harmful. Breaking you fingers hurts, doing it will more will not improve your grip.

“Practice makes perfect.”

Practice and repetition are key to strengthening a skill. Practice a bad way of performing that action will ingrain the incorrect behavior. The correct phrasing is "Perfect Practice makes Perfect." You must seek out what would be the 'perfect' way and practice achieve that as closely as you can.

“10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery.”

It takes a lot of hours to get really good at anything. 10,000 hours of practicing badly will just make you bad at whatever skill you are learning. The key part of this quote that gets left out too often is the it needs to be intensive high quality practice.

For all of these, the key unstated prerequisite is to find some way to identify the correct behavior and ensure you are performing that correct behavior in good form. Then practice that good form frequently to impress it on your system. If you fail to do step-zero, you will do more harm than good by just “doing it more.”

There are several ways to make it more likely that your practice will be well guided (from most effective to least)

  • Find a mentor, coach, or someone otherwise already skilled in the art to give you guidance and critical feedback (very important)
  • Find a group to work with who are also learning and where each of you have the trust to give and accept critical feedback on whether you are improving
  • Be incredibly honest with yourself in evaluating your progress, both positive and negative, and give yourself reasonable goals and plans for iterative development toward those goals

If it hurts, try to identify the most likely cause of the hurt and the most likely way to mitigate that cause. Then repeat that mitigation until either the pain goes away or you find a better way to address it.

Not as pithy, but more likely to help.