“The Harder I Practice, the Luckier I Get”

gary player

“The Harder I Practice, the Luckier I Get”

– Unattributed

This quote is wrongly attributed to Gary Player, a professional golfer. However, his usage of the saying made it popular. Arnold Palmer also used it.

It is also used by many journalists over the course of time to help build a premise or base for a story. One can easily tells the relationship this quote would have with sports figures but it can easily transfer to other less glamorous skills.

Do You Get Luckier When You Practice?

Ironically, the more one practices something, the less lucky they get. This is because the more skilled you get, the more refined your product is.

Fundamentally, if you practice a swing enough times, you will swing like that more consistently thereby reducing the amount of times you swing perfect by “luck” and also lowering the chances of getting “unlucky”.

Acquired Skill and The Snowball Effect

This also translates to expectations. The more you practice, the more skilled you become, the more you expect a certain result, the more confidence you gain and ultimately the more success you are likely to have.

However, one should take the time to practice properly as doing something wrong and practicing it can lead to repeated failure. There are many stories about someone with great talent failing to live up to potential due to not practicing. In some of these cases the blame is wrongly put on “luck” or lack thereof.

Confidence + Practice = Successful

In reality, practice takes away luck or randomness altogether. As pointed out earlier, knowing the likely results has a huge impact on confidence and expectations. While you cannot remove randomness completely you can reduce the impact it has on whatever skill you practice.

This quote leads to another popular saying. “To do the same thing over and over and expect a different result is by definition insanity”. Used together with practice one can see the value. By not practicing a skill then expecting your results to be different is both “unlucky” and “insane”.

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