The concept of what Matthew Syed calls, in his brilliant book Bounce… “Purposeful Practice” is really on my mind. It completely makes sense to me and meshes with my experience in business and sports. To be great at anything requires years of dedicated quantity and quality of practice. We not only have to practice a lot but practice the RIGHT things.
A metaphorical example might be provided by Shizuku Arakawa, the Japanese 2006 Olympic figure skating champion. It is reported that she fell over 20,000 times in her journey from 5 year old novice to gold medal winner. She fell because she, as all great champions do, was always practicing at the edge of her skill level; pushing herself to greatness. She not only practiced all the time, but she worked on practicing the right things and then pushed herself to break through. Hence 20, 000 spills. Of course she got up each time, brushed herself off and went back to purposeful practice. The end result: an Olympic Gold Medal, and the first Japanese gold medal in figure skating.
Purposeful practice involves:
1. Outlining in deep detail the processes that make up the desired expertise and end result.
2. Practicing over and over again every process; especially the ones we’re not good at.
3. Getting very specific process feedback and coaching on every practice so we improve rather than repeat.
4. Apply breakthrough creativity on how we might get better results faster.
5. Do it over and over again.
6. Have the right mind set (the CT!).
Whether we’re salespeople, grocery clerks, butchers, or golfers the same rules apply. If we want to be excellent we have to purposefully practice, and practice with purpose.
Self accountability and purposeful practice go together. The good news for all of us is that talent is over rated. Working at excellence with serious intent is not.
Living in the Triangle,