“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.”
That statement is one that I heard echoed when told stories of how the greats in our lifetime prepared…
When you hear the story of Michael Jordan taking 1000 free throws in practice it wasn’t because he wanted to see what his average was. It was because he wanted to improve his average. He took 1000 shots to lock in the mechanics of making a shot; to almost automate his success by know only what success felt like.
Perhaps you’ve heard the sentiment in the quote in a different way. Maybe something like, “practice makes permanent.” My friend Matt Trainor said, “tomorrow’s battles are won in today’s practice.”
How does this practice apply to you?
Maybe you’re not an aspiring athlete. Perhaps you are just getting ready for that presentation on your job, or to pitch your idea to someone, or the 5k in your neighborhood.
Regardless of how large or small the impact you may have, if you have to perform you should practice. If there ever comes the time in your life that you have to display your knowledge, talents, or abilities, you should spend time preparing; and take every opportunity to do it.
To put impact in perspective, those free throws Mike practiced were only worth one point. The mechanics of not getting it wrong was worth millions though.
This isn’t your first time either
Without even paying attention to it, you have been repeating things all your life to the point where you won’t get them wrong. I could point out that 4 minute song that you listened to for hours to learn the lyrics. But what about all the time you spent learning to walk as a baby? Consider, even, the time that you spent learning spacial awareness to perform things like clapping your hands or putting food in your mouth… scratching the place that itches.
Simple stuff, right? Subconscious stuff, right?
You’re practicing other things, too. Learning and reinforcing what socially acceptable behavior is. Opening Instagram and getting the shot before it’s too late (me too… @rashadpleasant). You even practice the consumer behavior of transaction sales.
Imagine what it would look like to understand those things deeper and intentionally go through those processes.
Maybe not those exact things, but what about the things that actually matter to you? What about the areas where you desire to improve?
There is no time
You can’t honestly say that you don’t have the time to practice. The things I mentioned above are things that you are likely doing without deciding to take time to practice them. There has to be something that you consider important enough to actually dedicate some time to getting better at. And not just better, but so good that you are likely to not get it wrong.
Time hack: What if you took some of the time that you spend hanging out with a group of people you know and spent it hanging out with people you don’t know? You could address your uneasiness with public speaking, small talk, networking, relationship building, and confidence in new situations.
Life hack: I wrote the SelfieGuide to Networking The Easy Way to help you navigate through that entire thing…
I believe when we address a task we will do it until we have a working knowledge of what to expect. Professionals, though, have more than just a working knowledge, they have a complete understanding. As professionals, we know what to expect because we know how it works, why it works, and what impact it has from both working and not working.
You don’t have to take this approach to everything in life but there should be something. There should be something so important that you dedicate time and energy to making sure you can’t get it wrong.
And as much as I would love to know what those things are, I think you should know first.
What in your life are you so committed to that you have a complete understanding or that you’ve practiced enough that you can’t get it wrong?
Make the list for yourself so you can set some goals up around it.
And let’s talk about it? Leave a comment so we can discuss some of the ways you prepare.
Let’s be better; together,