Practice doesn’t make perfect. In fact, practicing the wrong habits might be even worse than practicing at all.
I didn’t get out and play golf for a while. Didn’t practice either. When I got back out after a long hiatus, I found that I played pretty well. I chalked it up to not practicing my bad habits.
Though, if you want to become great, world class, you must practice with a purpose. You must engage in practice that gets you close to perfect.
How I communicate, especially in front of groups, is important to me. I believe in the message that I share. I believe it can have a great impact. My ability to create the impact is contingent on how well I can share it publicly.
For years I’ve been speaking to groups both in person and virtually. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it.
However, I had bad habits. Each time I would speak, I reinforced those habits.
I’ve been in training for nearly 3 weeks to increase my skills in public communication. I’ve deconstructed how I present material. It’s been tough. It’s been hard. I’ve been practicing. Those practices have met the definition of practicing to be perfect.
Anders Ericsson found the kind of practice that the best performers use is what he coined “deliberate practice.”
In his book “Peak” Ericsson defines this type of practice as taking “place outside one’s comfort zone and requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond his or her current abilities. Thus it demands near-maximal effort, which is generally not enjoyable.”
There’s truth to this. I’ve been stretched as a speaker. The way I stand, use my hands, my voice, the structure of what I say, the words I use, the emotion I create. It is a challenge and it’s not always fun.
Yet, that’s where the growth is. We grow from stretching what we do and how we do it. Finding the best it can be done and working to make that happen.
Deliberate practice also includes immediate feedback. Imagine delivering a presentation and then standing to hear peers pick apart every aspect of your presentation. I enjoy public speaking and it’s tough to hear.
Ericsson asserts that it’s one thing to receive feedback, it’s another to modify your behavior. That’s where the maximum effort comes in.
Maximum effort certainly requires physical attributes. You must do your best physically. It also requires mental work to allow the changes to take place in physical form.
I’ve worked through mental techniques that created new thought patterns and behaviors. Created mental devices that trigger powerful emotions for presenting to people. I’ve also tapped into my purpose for being here. It’s the belief that I can create even greater impact and joy for the people in my orbit.
It’s all in a pursuit that I trust we’re all on. To be the best of the best. I know you’re like me. You don’t get up in the morning, leave your homes and put in effort to remain on the spectrum of mediocrity. You want to elevate beyond that. It’s what I want for me, too.
Ericsson said it’s time to do the right tasks over time. He says “building or modifying previously acquired skills by focusing on particular aspects of those skills and working to improve them specifically; over time this step-by-step improvement will eventually lead to expert performance.”
Here’s my encouragement for you. Find something that will get you to stretch in a way that leads you closer to your purpose. Find someone or something that will provide you feedback as you grow.
Add deliberate practice and watch how your skills skyrockets You will skyrocket, too.