Find Out If You Are Practicing Failure

We’ve all heard the saying: “Practice Makes Perfect” But what if that’s NOT true?

Here’s a story about why “Practice Makes Perfect” is a lie.

I never doubted Helen’s work ethic. I believed her when she said she was putting in two to three times the required amount of time practicing her Full Monty Story. That didn’t change the fact that her coaches were reporting that her presentation was sucking like a Dyson.

So, what was the issue? I was sure that during her time at the Authentic Speaker Academy for Leadership she had been given the right tools, strategies, process, codes of conduct, and coaching needed to have her go from being a decent speaker to becoming a world class speaker…So what was up?

I’ll be honest with you; I was deeply troubled by her results. After all, no one gets to even qualify to be in this program unless I can actually see them graduating. I racked my brain, going over all of the personal one-on-one training she had received directly from me, the fantastic coaching that had been made available to her from our coaching team, and then all the outstanding training material. It just didn’t add up, I was clearly missing something.

I decided that I needed to go back and inquire further. “Helen, if you don’t mind, walk me through this again”

Again Helen shared that she had been practicing for many hours of each day. I decided that this was not going to be solved without my seeing the most recent version of her presentation for myself. Helen, got herself grounded, and taking a breath she walked out and took center stage. By the time Helen was just four minutes into her presentation all my confusion cleared.

“How many coaching sessions have you requested and received each week?”

Helen stopped dead in her tracks, and swallowing deeply I could immediately sense the tension rising in her body. She replied: “two… this month”

I replied: “You do know that you can have two coaching sessions per week, right?”

“Yes, I know. But I didn’t book coaching because I wanted to get much better before getting coaching” She sounded like she believed what she was saying, but the beads of sweat beginning to form on her forehead said something else.

I couldn’t help it, but a big smile came across my face as I said: “Helen, have you ever heard of those people who are waiting until they lose some weight before they go to the gym?”

Helen sheepishly said: “Yeah”

“Does that seem a little like what you are doing?”

“I guess, maybe.” I could hear that Helen wasn’t really seeing it yet.

It was obvious that I would have to be even clearer.

I asked Helen to walk me through whatever challenges she was having with her presentation and she did. One after another issue got cleared in in just moments. I could see the joy on Helen’s face as the stress was melting away.

When we were done I asked Helen a couple of questions. I started by asking if she thought we had got the challenges cleared up pretty quickly. Her answer was “Yes”. Then I asked her how long she’d been struggling with a couple of specific challenges, and the answer was over a month. Then I asked her to think about what she was actually practicing? Her answer was, of course, her Full Monty Story. It was at this point that it was time for a reality check:

“No Helen, what you were actually practicing/rehearsing was your mistakes. You see practice make perfect is a lie, if what you are practicing doesn’t work!”

Yes, it is very important to practice that which we want to become masterful at. However, if we do not stop at regular intervals to check in with our mentor, coach, teacher, or guide, there’s a pretty good chance that we are simply practicing our failure.

I trust that you found this article valuable. I look forward to your feedback and comments. Please share, like and comment below!

With gratitude,

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