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Poke the Box: Practice Deliberately

Let’s Start with Safal Niveshak
Just in case you missed any of this on Safal Niveshak in the last week…

Book Worm
A lot of professors give talks called ‘the Last Lecture’ reflecting on what matters most to them and what they’d like to pass on. in September 2007 computer science professor Randy Pausch delivered a last lecture called ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’. Ironically, it really was his last lecture, as this youthful, energetic and cheerful man had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had only months to live.

His lecture video soon went viral on the internet and it was later adopted into a book titled The Last Lecture. Let me share some of the things which I learned from this book.

I liked the idea of ‘head fake’ introduced by Randy in his book. He writes –

“There are two kinds of head fake. The first is literal. On a football field, a player will move his head one way so you’ll think he’s going in that direction. Then he goes the opposite way. It’s like a magician using misdirection. Coach Graham used to tell us to watch a player’s waist. “Where his belly button goes, his body goes, “ he’d say.

The second kind of head fake is the really important one – the one that teaches people things they don’t realize they’re learning until well into the process. If you’re a head fake specialist, your hidden objective is to get them to learn something you want them to learn.”


This reminds me of the famous scene from the movie Karate Kid where Mr. Miyagi makes his student do mundane looking work like painting the fence and waxing the car. But it’s a head fake and what he’s really doing is making him practice karate maneuvers.

Many of our life’s ordinary experiences later turn out to be head fakes, which were life’s way of making us practice for something bigger.

My second most important take away from the book was about being grateful. Randy says –

“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other. And despite my love of efficiency, I think that thank-you notes are best done the old fashioned way, with pen and paper…Despite all that is now going on in my life and with my medical care, I still try to handwrite notes when it’s important to do so. It’s just the nice thing to do. And you never know what magic might happen after it arrives in someone’s mailbox.”

Towards the end of his lecture, Randy reveals that his lecture was kind of head fake. It wasn’t meant just for his audience, it was a message to his own kids. He wanted to leave something for his children before he died. He said –

“I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children. If I were a painter, I would have painted for them. But I am a lecturer, so I lectured.”

All of us must be aware that our time is finite and time is all we have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think. Don’t wait for that day. Start chasing your dream today. So that if you ever find yourself in Randy’s position, you don’t have to leave this world with any regret.

Stimulate Your Mind
Here’s some amazing content we read in recent times…

Poke of the Week – Practice Deliberately

Everybody aspires to be really good at something. It could be a sport, an art, playing a musical instrument or any other activity like reading, painting or drawing. When we see someone who displays an extraordinary talent in any of these fields, it not only leaves us awestruck but inspires us.

So how do you become good at something? How do you improve your performance in a chosen activity?

The cliche “practice, practice and practice” isn’t the entirely correct answer. Simple practice isn’t enough to rapidly gain skills. Mere repetition of an activity won’t lead to improved performance. It’s not the quantity but the quality of practice.

Recent studies in the field of human performance have revealed that talent is an outcome of deliberate practice which is a highly structured
activity engaged in with the specific goal of improving performance. It requires continuous evaluation, feedback and thinking. It’s not fun and requires lot of mental and physical effort.

While you are involved in deliberate practice, you are at the boundary of your limits and knowledge, stretching out for a goal which is just a little out of reach.


Why would you want to go through so much pain and discomfort of deliberate practice? The short answer is – to poke. Becoming awesomely good at something is a brilliant way to poke the box of life.

Here is the long answer.

One of the key ingredients of long term happiness is the feeling of being exceptionally well at any specific task. Many recent studies in the field of psychology have found that people who are improving their performance constantly (even if the progress is slow) in some chosen activity, are happier than average people.

When you are getting better in something every day, it boosts your ego and releases a feel good hormone called serotonin in your body. This hormone is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.

Even if you don’t want to be world class performer there are at least few things where you want to be above average. For example, being a value investor the most important skill that you want to develop “Reading and Thinking”.

Charlie Munger says – “We make actual decisions very rapidly, but that’s because we’ve spent so much time preparing ourselves by quietly sitting and reading and thinking.”

Of course practicing too much can also become counterproductive. After you’ve finished your period of practice, it’s time for some self-care. Don’t strain yourself mentally too much. Do something that doesn’t require a lot of mental focus. Reward yourself. Go for a walk or take a nap.

Doing an activity just for fun isn’t going to reward you with long term happiness unless there is an element of deliberate practice involved in it.


Don’t forget that your time is finite.

Practice hard, practice deliberately.

Stay happy, stay blessed and keep poking!

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About the Author

Anshul Khare worked for 12+ years as a Software Architect. He is an avid learner in various disciplines like psychology, philosophy, and spirituality with special interests in human behaviour and value investing. You can connect with Anshul on Twitter.


  1. Practice with passion which should be equanimous and never craving for result is what true gain a man earn i think.

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