Dec 17, 2018

Improving Your Professional Skills – Practice Makes Perfect!

Have you ever thought about the process a professional golfer uses to get ready for an important tournament? Or wondered how a musician prepares for a concert? You probably already know the answer… practice! Each of them wants to play as well as possible!

How did Rory McIlroy become one of the best golfers in the world? As well as possessing an extraordinary level of natural talent, this might be the answer: hitting 16,500 golf balls, running 1,036 kilometers and straining through 6,800 press-ups. Oh, and here's the bad news: that's just one year’s work.

Most remembered for his extravagant costumes and trademark candelabra placed on the lids of his flashy pianos, Liberace was loved by his audiences for his musical talent and unique showmanship. He was called a genius. Upon hearing that he exclaimed: “Yes… and I practice eight hours a day!”

In Malcom Gladwell’s bestselling book, ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’, he makes the case that there is no shortcut to mastery other than ‘putting in the hours’ – 10,000 hours, by the way! Gladwell says it typically takes that amount of time to ‘master’ something. People with the opportunity to achieve mastery have the ability to practice the 10,000 hours, however most of them do not.

Check out this video, where author Gladwell explains his theory about exceptionally high achievers, or outliers, in a speech at the London Business Forum:

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Start Your Own Winning Habits

Do you have the opportunity to practice? If so, how often do you practice? And for what amount of time?

The good news is that you don’t have to spend eight hours a day practicing. However, the real key to performing better than your peers or your competition is to practice regularly. That means every day, just like professional athletes, musicians and many others who seek to exceed expectations. Anyone who wants to be the best at what they do must put in the practice.

Here’s how to get started. Find a book or online training program that pertains to your particular expertise. If you’re in digital marketing or sales, search for content that offers insights which can improve your performance. Once you find it, don’t try to read it all as soon as possible.

The goal is to practice every day. Therefore, read for 10 minutes each day. Make this a habit. If you choose, take a day off once a week, but in that case you should still read for 10 minutes, six days a week. The hardest part is starting this habit. For some, it may take as long as 30 days before it becomes just that.

The same goes for online professional training courses, which can be viewed in small bites. These days they are often delivered in this format, which is helpful. Again, the key is building up habitual practice.

Those striving for success will always look for ways to improve their knowledge and performance. While I was an early adopter of professional development, over 40 years later I’m still reading, listening and watching bite-size pieces of content daily, which makes me smarter and increases my productivity overall. I know this works!

Begin your practice today. Do it now. Begin the process of creating a good habit. The results will speak for themselves!

David Moore
David Moore

David serves as the Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital. Both companies are part of WPP, the world’s largest advertising and communications company. His focus is to drive the development and implementation of the firm’s digital initiatives. He is a seasoned speaker and board member with intimate knowledge of the digital landscape.

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