There was an awesome trick I used to do with my BMX buddies when I was a kid where I would balance—hands free—down a hill on the main frame of the bike. It had no particular name like the “bunny hop,” an “endow,” or a “wheelie,” but it was the scariest thing ever, especially since it entailed not falling and breaking your face, among other body parts. It’s no real surprise that all the kids in the neighborhood placed bets on who would most likely wipe out.I did eventually join the ranks of the few kids who made it the entire way down the hill without falling. This of course didn’t happen over-night. I set a goal and did not stop until I made it. Every Saturday we would try the stunt and every Saturday there would be broken teeth, twisted ankles and someone who would sprint home in shame after chickening out at the top of the hill. This was a huge no-no especially since the neighborhood girls would be watching.
I fell dozens of times but I would get back up—in pain or not—and try it all over again until something snapped or Mom called us in for dinner.
And finally, on a cloudy day, the road still damp from the previous nights rain fall, I made it! I can still remember the hugs, the high fives and the look on my crush’s face. It was epic.
For all the kids who completed this crazy feat, we had one thing in common; we practiced religiously and our performance was judged immediately by our peers and without minced words. Practice made perfect. It’s not just a saying, it’s really true.
Deliberate practice, according to Swedish FSU Psychology Professor Anders Ericsson, involves setting specific goals, obtaining immediate feedback and concentrating as much on technique as well as outcome. Practicing something over and over, in addition to setting a goal and having a panel of peers judge your performance, is how elite performers are separated from the mediocre; it is how the world goes round.
The concept of deliberate practice applies to all job functions, all trades—from the surgeon who is judged immediately after a tricky operation based on the survival rate of his patient to the local plumber whose reputation is kept alive thanks to word of mouth recommendations and referrals. It runs parallel to getting that raise, that promotion, that corner office. Goal setting and feedback is essential to the progression of a professional career, an intimate relationship and maintaining a friendship.
Is your company’s goal this quarter to try something daring and challenging with your marketing strategy? Does it entail bringing enticing, fresh, informative and insightful content to your website? Who will monitor this process for you? Who will track performance and provide data on the ultimate outcome of your company’s goal?
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