Flow vs Deliberate Practice

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1 min read

In his latest podcast, Andrew Huberman interviewed Cal Newport.

One of the many things they discussed in the interview is the contrast between the state of flow, and deliberate practice. Cal says that some people have been trying to reconcile these two approaches, but he argues they are actually quite different.

Flow is a state of mind where one performs some task intuitively. Time flies by. The end result may be high quality, perhaps the best one can do (at a given time).

Deliberate practice, on the other hand, is a state of peak exertion. It is trying to learn something you don’t know yet, or improving some weaker aspect of it. Time does not fly by, in fact every second may be excruciating. The end result is getting better at the thing being practiced.

Flow is about performing at peak capacity, while deliberate practice is about lifting the peak higher.

Neither states can be achieved if distracted, but that does not make them one and the same.

Cal Newport is the author of Deep Work*, a book I’ve read and heartily recommend.


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