By William Singleton

So here it is, the secret sauce, the pièce de résistance, the holy grail, the alpha and omega, the lynchpin, the one thing in our quest to get a little better every day (if you’re not sitting down, you should be)… practice. That’s right, practice. Good habits are fortified with good practice.

I suspect you might be a bit skeptical as I was, but here’s the thing… it’s true. In any area of our lives where we aspire to be better professionally or personally, practice will play a role in our achievement.

Real World Examples
If we start from a place of familiarity, I think we can move into more abstract spaces of understanding while retaining the application.

A little kid wants to play the violin just like Itzhak Perlman or Lucia Micarelli, two amazingly talented musicians. There are three fundamental things they need to do: get a violin, get a good teacher, practice, and then perform. This is no guarantee they will achieve the level of success of either Micarelli or Perlman, but it sure puts them in a position for the best success possible.

A young man wants to impress his sweetheart on Valentine’s Day with a decadent chocolate soufflé prior to asking for their hand in marriage. He doesn’t cook, but it will mean so much if he could make this as a testament of his love. He goes online, finds a recipe that he believes he can follow, purchases the ingredients, and gives it a go. First round results…inedible. Second round… inedible but the dog liked it. (I know dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, but his dog took one for the team). Third round… pretty good and mom was impressed. Mom’s can be tough critics. Fourth round… the sweetheart said yes and loved the soufflé!

We can’t get from here to there without practice.

In the Vivarium
A technician starts a new job. We run them through the training gauntlet putting them in a mock room for a few weeks or have them work on studies or projects that are just for their learning. And, when they reach a level of success in practice then we release them to “impress their sweetheart.”

A new manager starts managing the same group she has worked with for 10 years. We run her through the training gauntlet by sending her to a management training school where they take her through the most common scenarios that will be experienced as a manager. After achieving a level of competence, she is released to manage her new direct reports.

A senior executive looks at her staff and sees a 25 year difference in their faces. She doesn’t know them or their frame of references, but wants to. She retains an executive coach that understands her specific growth needs and together they start an intense dive in developing skills and understanding that will allow her to better interact and lead her team. She accepts a volunteer position in her church to work with the young adults to hone the skills she is learning with her coach. Five years later during her retirement dinner, her staff thank her for taking the time to get to know them and for leading them so well.

The Key to Managing Well
Without practice, none of it will work. Great resources, great instruction, a great coach, and even great passion will get us not get us there without practice.

Maybe you think you don’t have time to practice because of your busy schedule. I will tell you that because you have so much going on you have to take the time to practice. Getting better in real time is hard and, in most cases, it doesn’t happen well. If we want to have continued success, we must be committed to practice.

Reposted from ALN Magazine

AuthorWilliam Singleton