Practice Makes Perfect

As children, we learn that “Practice Makes Perfect.” Learning a skill and then moving on to the next. Often, if we do not regularly use that skill, we shoved it into a closet in our minds, dormant until needed again. Once a skill is mastered as adults, we tend to forget to develop further. Complacency in the role of a leader can cause a team to fail.

In the book Extreme Leadership, Leif Babin spoke of a consulting job where a company board hired him to pinpoint production issues and what could be changed to increase them. Once analyzing the situation at hand, Babin found that the disconnection was in the leadership. Consulting with the CEO, they noticed tendencies of a complacent leader who wasn’t ready for growth and to do what it takes to move the company forward. The most crucial issue was that as the leader, the CEO could not accept responsibilities for his team.

In my eyes, this is where if the CEO remembers Practice Makes Perfect. Reaching perfect is a mind set and not something that can be obtained. Perfect is a constant goal that any leader should shoot to achieve. Leading a team/company to success and fueling what is needed to stay current with the current industry show a leader. When you have a team that had a bad/weak leader, you will often see an unsuccessful outcome. In my experience, a leader should look at their team, then look at themself and then ask what can I do to make this situation better. Growth and self-awareness can allow a leader to pinpoint what skills are needed to change or where new skills need to be added.

Lastly, taking responsibility is another learned skill; this is a skill many leaders cannot obtain. When taking responsibility for someone else’s actions and admitting as a leader, you have failed to lead the whole, and it is a very rare trait. Unfortunately, in life, you see the one forgetting that they are apart of a team. Leading a time is an honor and should never be taken for granted.

In conclusion, as adults, we need to remember that practice does make perfect, and we never need to stop growing and learning. True perfection will never be achieved, and if you think that, you need to take a hard look at yourself. There are many factors in obtaining that level of mastery of “perfect,” and being a leader is no exception to that concept.

Willink, J., & Babin, L. (2017). Extreme ownership: how U.S. Navy SEALs lead and win. Second edition. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

10 thoughts on “Practice Makes Perfect

  1. I will start by saying that practice truly does make perfect, and I fully agree that if certain skills are not used/practiced regularly, those skills will slowly fade.

    I’ve been working from home for almost a year now, as unreal as it may seem. Of course, most of my day-to-day tasks have continued throughout the pandemic, but in returning to the office one day a week, I have definitely noticed how quickly you can forget about simple “skills” that we may not have previously thought of as such. For example, though I am in no way, shape or form an IT professional, my colleagues would often come to me to help troubleshoot issues before calling the real professionals. The first day back in the office seemed like the battle against technology for me, even down to the coffee maker! It was no longer instinctive to do straightforward things (like make coffee) because I had not used those skills in such a long time.

    Whatever it may be that a business owner/manager is trying to “perfect,” they must consider how to integrate this skill as a standard business practice. This goes back to your point about self-awareness – how can a company still maintain is normal functionality/productivity while also trying something new?

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    1. Couldn’t agree more. Finding that balance between the new and old is very important. I am the first person to embrace change, but I also like to consider how it will affect the overall picture. The right sort of change at the right time is critical.

      COVID-19 has given us the chance to see how remote working can work, actually apply it, and find the holes. As a mother of 3, before COVID, juggling being a mom and full-time employee was extremely hard. In my area, it is extremely hard to find child care. Now, If there is ever a time I am a few days without daycare, I have a work from home plan ready to go. Thank you RONA. I believe a lot of good has come out of the past year and has pushed used from every angle.

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  2. Jae,
    Your insight about the impact of a leader reminds me of a literature review that I read in a previous class. The writers examined the effects of different leadership styles on corporate change/entrepreneurship. They concluded that various leadership styles have a substantial impact, and the more positive the traits as a leader, the stronger the effect on people, processes and place. As it has been said, it starts at the top.

    Carla

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    1. It does start at the top, but it takes a special person who understands the process from bottom to top. Some of the most respected leaders in my community are people who have worked their way up. This is rare with the advantages that education play in job placement but there is something to learn from these individuals. They understand the frustrations, the workload, positives, and stressers.

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  3. Hey Jae,
    I enjoyed reading your blog post. I agree that when we reach adulthood we often don’t continue to sharpen our skills, we more so just keep doing what we’re doing to keep things easy. It is important though, to shut off auto-drive and continue to develop and grow as you mentioned to be better leaders and even parents. We must move forward with the goal of not reaching perfection, but simply growth. I really liked your paragraph that referenced taking responsibility and how that is a learned skill. It is easy as a mother to help teach my children this skill, or point it out when it is needed, but often in a professional setting or in personal relationships, I’m not as vocal about encouraging others to take responsibility. Maybe this is because I feel like at a certain point in adulthood it should already be learned, but I think I will try to do better about remembering that it is still a skill that needs nurturing and continued effort.

    Thanks!
    Sammi

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  4. The phrase “Practice Makes Perfect” is something I think many of us grew up hearing. I agree that as leaders we must continue to strive for greatness and continue to push our team towards that end goal.

    A previous Head Coach that I worked under liked to use the phrase “practice makes permanent” which led to healthy/good habits which led to better results. It is something I still use today.

    Looking forward to your next blog posts!

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  5. Hey Jae,

    As humans, we often master skills to only be dusted off to use once in a blue moon or we have become so complacent that we are not open for growth and improvement. I dealt with this a lot while I worked in Admissions at a Community College. Leaders at the college wanted change but did not want to change (this may sound familiar to my peeps in Higher Ed). I love how you said, “Perfect is a constant goal that any leader should shoot to achieve”.

    This book seems very intriguing and I cannot wait to read more of your blogs.

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  6. Hi Jae,

    The most evocative point you bring up is that taking responsibility is a learned skill. Looking back I recognize that it took many years for me to cultivate the skills of taking ownership of my own mistakes and being responsible for them. Much of this relates to time spent in a leadership position and having mentors call me out for my mistakes. Another important aspect of learning those skills was having someone guide me through the process of apologies and recompense. Without those mentors, it may have taken even longer for me to develop those skills.

    Your point about the complacent leader who wasn’t ready for growth reminded me of this passage from The Servant as Leader. “One does not awake each morning with a compulsion to reinvent the wheel. But if one is servant, either leader or follower, one is always searching, listening, expecting that a better wheel for these times is in the making.” (Greenleaf, 1973, p. 3) As leaders, we should always seek to learn, grow, and expand ourselves. Often leaders only see the potential for growth in dollars rather than the individuals, including themselves, that work within the company. I look forward to following along with your reading and see how Willink and Babin present various models of leadership moving forward.

    Greenleaf, R. K. (1973). The servant as leader. Cambridge, MA: Center for Applied Studies.

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  7. As time goes on, I have realized the more individuals become set in their own ways! I am guilty of this myself! As innovators, it is extremely imperative to ensure that we promote open-mindedness WITH a genuinely open mind. Innovators must lead by example just like any other executive.

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  8. I definitely agree that complacent leaders can cause a team to fail. Perfection is not something you can obtain, you can only chase it. Those who have a leader to inspire them to chase perfection are the teams that will become great. We should never stop chasing our goals. It is through the process of practicing that we learn valuable lessons.

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