“Practice makes perfect” is not true. You have to add one word: “Perfect practice makes perfect.”
I wish that I had coined that phrase, but I didn’t. Legendary pro football coach Vince Lombardi did. I also like the quote attributed to the virtuoso violinist Jascha Heifetz: “If I don’t practice one day, I know it. Two days, the critics know it. Three days, the public knows it.”
There are no walk-ons at the Super Bowl or Carnegie Hall, or, for that matter, when it comes to the survival of your company. Athletics and performing arts aren’t perfect metaphors for business, but they’re not bad. In all three, talent will only take you so far. From that point on, it’s a question of determination and learned skill.
I’ve had numerous coaches help me develop whatever natural talent I have, from public speaking to running marathons to dancing and many others. I’m not embarrassed to ask for coaching when it comes to business decisions, either. After learning from the experts and practicing until it became second nature, I felt like I was “in the zone” more often than not. The “zone” is that magical place where performance seems inspired and effortless.
You, your business and your employees can also get in the zone–that place where you are making the right calls as leaders, sales people, quality control, marketing, the works. Concentrate on doing the things that give you the best chance.
Whatever it is you do, you have keep practicing the skills and concepts that got you where you are. The annals of business are filled with stories of companies that thought they had it made and could milk their enterprises without having to bother about improving their products or services. It’s amazing how fast they found their markets disappearing.
Mackay’s Moral: All the world’s a stage, and most of us need more rehearsals.