Sometimes when learning something new and challenging, we can’t help but wonder if practice makes perfect. We want to believe the task is not for us. However, when venturing into the path of self-development or exploring your genius zone, practice is something you need.
But is practicing really all that matters? The answer is no. The truth is that many factors influence how good we become at something. As a result, there have been conflicting reports on how important practice is in learning.
Does Practice Make Perfect?
Does practice make perfect? How much does practice matter anyway? Here is a short story about an experience that has influenced my idea of practicing:
When I was 15, my friend Karen invited me to join the marching band with her. I have no idea why, but despite having no experience with music or performance in general, I joined my high school marching band AND the local drum and bugle corps. When I think about that now, I kind of admire my young self for acting in that fearless manner.
A marching show is roughly 13 minutes long. Typically, shows comprise five different songs and involve constant movement around a football field in complicated drill patterns. While marching, each member either plays an instrument or performs with a piece of equipment such as a flag or a rifle.
With over 100 marching members on the field, all were moving and playing simultaneously. You can imagine there’s a lot of room for error. Hence, the loooong and intense rehearsals for months before performance season begins!
One of our drum corps drill instructors was a man named Eric Kitchenman. Tall and broad-shouldered with a shaved head and a loud voice, Eric approached teaching drills with an intensity I had never experienced before. At the time, I imagined he might have come from a military background (he didn’t), and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little intimidated by him and his leadership style at first.
However, I quickly realized Eric’s intense approach worked well for me! It challenged me, and his insistence on the highest standard drew my desire to excel.
One thing I remember most clearly about Eric’s teaching style is his habit of standing on the front sideline of the practice field, yelling,
Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect!
The first time I heard him say it, it made total sense. If how we do one thing is how we do everything, then doesn’t it only make sense that how we practice is how we perform in every arena?
What Are the Benefits of Practicing?
To understand just how much practice matters, here are some benefits of practicing:
1. You Create Consistency
Regular practice not only helps you add and master new skills, it also builds the muscle of consistency. The simple act of consistently putting in practice time enables you to connect your results with the time you’ve invested.
2. You Build Proficiency
Becoming skilled at anything new takes time and repetition. Experts become experts by first having an idea, then putting that idea into practice, and over time, the consistent practice eventually creates mastery. Repeated action over time creates new neuro-pathways, so skills that used to feel difficult become easier.
3. You Model Good Habits
When you practice consistently, you model success behaviors for those around you. Living your values and modeling behaviors is one of the best ways to influence others, especially children who look to you to learn and grow.
With consistent practice, you can replace unwanted habits in any area of your life with productive and powerful ones that move your life in the direction you desire. What are you practicing each day to make your life better?
Health and Arȇte,
Monica Ricci spent 20 years as an organizing and productivity consultant, speaker, and trainer. Today she coaches busy professionals and business teams, replacing unproductive habits with powerful ones so they can create the life and business they desire and deserve. Monica enjoys learning, baseball, travel, and high-quality butter.