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Practice Perfect

Rules for developing talent with disciplined, deliberate, intelligent practice.

We’ve all heard the expression “practice makes perfect,” but then why doesn’t it always work? And why do we limit practice to things like the piano or tennis instead of what we really want to get better at like breaking bad habits, acing a meeting, advancing our careers, or leading people?

In Practice Perfect, authors and teaching experts Doug Lemov, Katie Yezzi, and Erica Woolway show us how we can get better at anything by engineering how we practice. The book debunks the myths and revolutionizes the way we approach and think about practice just as Lemov’s book Teach Like a Champion changed the way we teach.

By researching the latest in brain and behavioral science and in their work training teachers with Uncommon Schools, the authors found that what you do in practice matters as much if not more than how much you practice. There is a right way and a wrong way to practice. The right way involves breaking through assumptions, modeling excellent practice, using feedback, creating a culture of practice, making new skills stick, and hiring for practice.

Packed with stories of practice masters like Coach John Wooden, surgeon Atul Gawande, and basketball star Michael Jordan, Practice Perfect breaks down effective practice into 42 clear rules. They include:

  • ENCODE SUCCESS: Engineer your practice activities so the right actions are encoded in your mental circuitry to become habit.
  • PRACTICE THE 20: 80% of your success will come from 20% of your behaviors so practice the most impactful 20% to accomplish your goal.
  • LET THE MIND FOLLOW THE BODY: Automate skills so you’ll use them before you consciously decide to.
  • REPLACE YOUR PURPOSE WITH AN OBJECTIVE: Measure and define specifically what you’ll be able to do once mastering your goal.
  • ISOLATE THE SKILL: Identify and name each technique you’ve identified as an important building block for peak performance.

By putting together and applying these and scores of other practice rules from the book anyone can see big changes in their performance. If you are a manager, educator, leader, parent, or coach, you’ll learn how to help others practice effectively to get results. If you’re looking to achieve your own personal goals and break through to another level, you’ll learn how practice can get you there.

With Practice Perfect, practice will no longer seem a mundane and maligned task, but the most powerful key to unlocking anyone’s potential.

The Book on Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, BAM, Amazon, or Jossey-Bass
The Audio Book on Amazon
The E-Book for iBook, Kindle, Google Play, Kobo, or Nook
Practice Perfect has been translated into the following languages:
Portuguese - Russian - Japanese

The critical difference between ‘good-enough’ and exemplary is not talent or desire. It’s practice. Deliberate practice. That’s why Practice Perfect is such an immensely important book. If you want to improve your own—or someone else’s—performance, you’ve got to read this book.

Jim Kouzes, co-author of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge, and Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

Doug Lemov has done it again. In Practice Perfect, one of America’s best teachers widens his focus to help all of us move ever closer to mastery. If you are interested in getting better at anything (or helping someone else get better), then this book, with its excellent collection of techniques and tools, should be your field guide.

Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

There are no shortcuts to success, whether it be in education, sports, or business. The authors of Practice Perfect provide a clear-cut, common-sense blueprint for what we all need to know to create practice habits that ensure permanent, sustainable results.

Michael D. Eisner, former chairman and CEO, Walt Disney Co.; founder, The Tornante Company; co-founder, The Eisner Foundation

Practice Perfect will provide a recipe for organizations that are committed to their people—to helping them grow and get better in simple but powerful—and perhaps overlooked ways. Practice Perfect will create the conditions I believe necessary to equip schools, school leaders, and teachers with the tools essential for student success.

Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO, Chicago Public Schools
Meet the authors

Doug Lemov is the Managing Director of the Teach Like a Champion Team at Uncommon Schools. Erica Woolway is the Chief Academic Officer of the Teach Like a Champion Team. Katie Yezzi is the founding principal of True North Troy Preparatory Charter Elementary School, an Uncommon School in upstate New York. In 2008 Katie began working with Doug on teacher and instructional leader development related to Teach Like a Champion.