Experience isn’t practice

Mickey Mellen
2 min readMay 23, 2023

If you do something often enough you’re likely to get pretty good at it, but simply doing something over and over isn’t the same as practicing it.

In his book “ Outsmart Your Brain “, author Daniel Willingham shares his thoughts on this:

Aristotle was right in saying that the doing is vital-a lyre player must play the lyre-but it’s not quite as simple as that. I’ve done plenty of things for decades without improving: driving a car, for example, or baking cakes or typing. How is it possible that I keep doing these things, yet I don’t improve? Simple: experience is not the same thing as practice.

Driving a car is an example that most of us can relate to. While we improve a good bit over the years simply from having seen such a variety of situations, most of us are not professional drivers. I’ve likely driven around 350,000 miles in my lifetime, and I’m likely only a tiny bit better than I was at 50,000 miles.

Typing is another great example for me is typing. As you might guess, I type a LOT. I’m pretty good at it, but I rarely actually practice. It’s one of those things where with some focused practice I could become even better, but I don’t do it often. I got on a brief kick a few years ago and improved my speed a bit, but I’d certainly be far faster now if I had kept up the deliberate practice.

If there is something you really want to improve on, focused practice is your key. Repetition will help, but it will never get you as far as real practice will.

Originally published at https://www.mickmel.com on May 23, 2023.



Mickey Mellen

I’m a cofounder of @GreenMellen, and I’m into WordPress, blogging and seo. Love my two girls, gadgets, Google Earth, and I try to run when I can.