Practice makes better, not perfect.
I learned this truth from one of my business mentors, Shari Hudspeth of Average to Excellence. In fact, I learned a lot from Shari and her entire way of doing business. 9 times out of 10, when I think of the way I want to practice business, I think of how Shari does it. I was also introduced to powerful business building practices when I had the privilege to hear Mark Victor Hansen speak at a DSWA event in Dallas several (maybe 8?) years ago.
We all know the quote about how to get to Carnegie Hall, right? "Practice!"
Doctor's practice medicine. Attorney's practice law. Multi-million dollar athletes still go to practice. Yet for many, the idea of practicing, or needing to practice, denotes some sense of a lack of expertise or professionalism. The actual definition includes both the actual DOING of a thing, and the LEARNING to DO a thing.
Always a Learner
You've met them. You've worked with them; the people in leadership who refuse to admit that they don't know what is happening out in the real world. It isn't because they aren't professionals or don't care. It is because they have forgotten how to practice. They have lost their understanding of how much they don't know.
When your client has to make a choice between you and a dozen others, you want to be recognized as the Expert. Yet, if the Expert doesn't remain a student, it isn't long before the information or training given becomes dated and out of touch with the reality of how the real world works. This is a danger area for those who are in mid- to upper-management or leadership positions. Your responsibilities may keep you out of the field on a day-to-day basis, but a good leader will make sure she is OUT THERE from time to time in order to be relevant to their organization.
You can't say, 'Do this because it used to work.' When addressing a shift in the economy or customer habits, you must to be able to say, "I can see that what we've always done isn't working. We may not need an overhaul, just a little shift. Let's give it a try and see. If it doesn't work, we'll find a better way." Your organization will appreciate your honesty and willingness to accept that there have been changes in your industry, and thus a need to change your approach to client acquisition.
Because of my sales background, I observed this first hand. What was a very popular way of doing business in the 60's-late 90's began to falter for effectiveness. Those who have become the most successful in today's market have developed the skill required to blend 1-to-1 service, with the lifestyle of women today.
I learned a phrase in Bible college that has served me through all the realms of my life: "Methods are many, principles few. Methods often change, principles rarely do." In business, and in life, your core values will not shift - but the way you deliver solutions will - and MUST if you want to maintain relevancy.
Wherever you find yourself in leadership, determine to maintain a learner's posture.
Positioned for Progress
It is tricky when it comes to navigating marketing waters. Yet, when boiled down to it's essence, the WHY of doing business is the same as it has always been. There is a market who has a need. We have something to meet that need. We are in competition with others who also have a way to meet the need. We want the client base to pick us over the others.
A person who continues to practice (stay a learner) always has the advantage over the person who doesn't. Why? Because the learner will have the privilege of discovering new ways to meet the needs of the customer base. Callan Rush teaches a powerful concept that helps service providers overcome the need to fight for the 8% of the population that already recognize they have a need for your service or specialty. These are the people everyone is fighting for when it comes to the client share. How do you learn Callan's secret? Determine to learn from her.
Jeff Bullas has all the information you need on how to become an expert business blogger and marketer. How do you take advantage of his expertise? You guessed it, take the time to engage and learn from him.
These days, I'm learning how to become better acquainted on how to use LinkedIn. How? By becoming a student of Alex Pirouz.
Once you determine to remain a Practicer, you are automatically positioned to make progress in your chosen field or industry, You may not be an expert in Social Media, or Podcasting, or Blogging or any of the other 1001 suggestions for the modern business marketing model, but when you have a working knowledge of these tools of your art, you will have an ear for shifts. You will be, if not ahead of the curve, at least not behind it.
How to Practice
Check Your Equipment
If you don't have what you need, what will you do to get it?
What does it require to do what you do? Is it in good working order?
A guitarist needs strings and picks. A painter needs some type of canvas and medium (chalk, paint, mud.)
A leader needs communication and coaching skills.
Run the Drills
Those who win are those who can last the distance, not necessarily go the fastest.
Have you ever been in sports? If so, you know that running is a requirement. Why? For endurance.
No sports? Music, maybe. Scales or progressions are a must.
The technique must be second nature when it is time for execution.
Practice with a Power Partner
An observer helps you identify weaknesses. A skilled one helps you correct the weakness.
You may think you are doing it right, but your form is all wrong.
A weight trainer needs a spotter. A golfer needs an expert on the swing.
Teams need a coach. So do individual competitors. So do you.
An unbiased eye sees the flaws and can help you get the edge.
Stopping and starting sends your brain confused signals.
You'll never experience satisfaction when you work hard for awhile and give up for awhile. This cycle is built for failure.
Everyone struggles from time to time. It's okay. But don't let it be your habit to quit just because it is hard. It's the time to learn the next skill in order to continue progressing.
All work and no play is just wrong!
Give yourself permission to celebrate even the smallest of wins. Hey, it may have taken you a lot to sit down at the desk to write or to make that call. Pat yourself on the back. Give yourself a high five. Tell your Power Partner about your progress and let her celebrate, too.
It takes humility to admit you still are practicing your craft. However, as a leader, your admission that you are continuing to learn, allows your organization the right to continue to learn, as well. They respect that you are willing to learn to do better - for THEM! And after all, isn't that what a leader is supposed to do? Show the way?
Live At Your Best...Live Inspired
Are you looking for a Power Partner to help you Live At Your Best? Give me a call.
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