We Are Talking About Practice!

"Excellence is not reserved for the lucky few but can be achieved by almost all of us" -- Matthew Syed

I recently completed reading the book "Bounce" by Matthew Syed. Syed is a United Kingdom table tennis champion player that has spent the last decade researching "purposeful practice". Syed recognizes that he became a champion not because of innate talent but rather due to learning from experts, being trained by dedicated teachers and putting in a great deal of practice.

"Bounce" made me reflect on my own development and how we develop as leaders. It's practice, not talent that counts. Many of us tend to give up when we can't do something new. I distinctively recall giving up golf in 1996 because I was not "good" at it after playing twice. I have not played golf since. I remember facilitating my first business meeting in 1991 and leaving that meeting terrified that I would be fired for lack of talent. Was I embarrassed? Yes. Fortunately for me, I did not give up facilitating and leading meetings. I decided to practice it.

Numerous research studies show that how long people work at their careers has very little to do with achieving their optimal performance. Being successful requires strong experience and deep concentration. Purposeful practice requires great coaching, the right system and internal motivation. The right coach can give vital feedback to improve. The right system ensures that we are using the right techniques and strategies. Our internal motivation determines the amount of effort and time we are willing to put into practice.

As leaders, we are often bombarded with offerings of training and classes. We take these classes and after a week we revert back to our old behaviors and results. We didn't really learn.

To ensure that real learning takes place and endures, we must place our concentrated focus on a holistic approach by integrating both formal and informal elements. The most effective way to learn and develop a new skill or behavior is to apply and PRACTICE it on the job and in real life situations. Leadership development is built upon how leaders internalize and apply what they learn based on how they acquire the knowledge.

The 70/20/10 formula describes how real learning occurs:

* 70% from real life and on-the-job EXPERIENCES, tasks and problem solving. This is the most important aspect of any leadership development plan.

* 20% from EXPOSURE and feedback from working with role models and coaches.

* 10% from EDUCATION and formal training.

In the past, have you relied on training classes and workshops to develop? Are you open to practicing more?

What do you need to purposefully practice in your leadership? Why?

What result will purposeful practice get you and your team?

What have you claimed was not a talent of yours but realize maybe you need to practice more?

These are questions I am asking myself right now as I think about dusting off my golf clubs that are in the corner of the garage.

Until next time, Leaders Develop Daily Not in a Day (and with a lot of practice).


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