Practice Matters, Ask Michael Jordan

Think of your favorite athlete or musician, now imagine how many hours of dedicated practice they have spent mastering their skill. How many baskets did Michael Jordan practice shooting daily? How many hours did Eric Clapton spend practicing the guitar?

Expertise doesn’t come overnight. Even relatively simple skills can take some time to reach a high level of expertise.

There are many theories of how long it takes to master a complex skill. Most of us can agree that it is in the thousands of hours; for some skills more for others fewer. It is important to consider that it’s not enough to mindlessly practice something for 1000 hours. It’s important to spend that time optimally, so here are some tips to consider for optimal results.

My Top 8 Tips to Mastering Any Skill

Any skill can be mastered with sufficient dedication and effective practice, what you do and how you do it matters.

  1. Choose what is most important. What is the one thing that if you practice it will bring you to mastery level in your profession? For example, if enrolling clients in your services or program or selling them your new line of organic jams is most important, then practice your presentation daily. Even if you do not have any potential clients to talk to today, practice. Practice in front of the mirror, record yourself. Enrolling and selling your programs and products is what is going to keep you in business, so you want to be so confident, you want a master level presentation when you do get in front of a prospect.
  2. Quality counts. Practice involves repetition; but repetition is not more important than accuracy. For example, playing a guitar chord incorrectly 1,000 times doesn’t help much, unless you want to do it incorrectly when it counts. Avoid the belief that the quantity of practice is all that matters. Quality practice results in a greater level of mastery.
  3. Daily practice is effective practice. Practice your skill daily if possible, even if it means shorter practice sessions. There’s a limit to how much you can do in a day. There’s a limit to how much your brain can learn. Ten minutes a day of focused, consistently high-quality practice is better than an inconsistent practice schedule, like a one hour practice every couple of weeks. Practicing beyond a certain amount of time isn’t an effective use of your time.
  4. Test yourself regularly. Are you learning how to drive a golf ball further? Then check your driving distance on a regular basis. Examine your results and look at your progress. Making progress means you’re on the right track. It’s also very motivating. Poor progress might mean you need to change your approach.
  5. Get a good coach. Whether you are entrepreneur building a business or leaning to play the banjo, a coach is an important part of your team. Why make unnecessary mistakes? The right coach can take years off your learning curve.
  6. Spend your time on what matters. Of all the activities you can do to master a skill, 20% will provide 80% of your results. Unfortunately, sometimes that 20% consists of the things that aren’t enjoyable to do. Mastering your skill will require spending your time effectively. Make the most of your effort.
  7. Be selective. Too many people try to master too many things. You don’t have enough time to master the drums, the guitar, Mandarin, photography, screenwriting, and long-range rifle shooting. There are only so many hours in the day. Be choosy and work on the skills that matter the most to you.
  8. Have patience. Progress comes in spurts. The first 40 hours or so can be especially troubling. Until your brain makes a few alterations, progress can be extremely slow. It’s easy to become frustrated and quit. Give yourself time. Focus practicing consistently and properly. Trust that the results will come in time. We live in a time where we have unprecedented access to free information on all sorts of subjects. That is a great thing; however, it is tempting to overlook the fact that “the experts” we turn to for new skills and expertise spent hours mastering those skills. We can fall into the trap of not realizing the thousands of hours of practice and learnings from many failures they experienced; and, the adjustments they had to make as a result of the failures. There were few if any shortcuts for them on the path to becoming experts and master practitioners.

There Are No Shortcuts to Mastery

We may look for quick results and short cuts. We may be tempted to think that because we participated in a 40-hour webinar on how to become a master baker or a life coach we are now qualified to go offer our expertise to others. That is hardly the case, be intentional and practice your new skills. Practice alone, ask your friends to be your volunteer clients, have important conversations with everyone, serve at a high level, because that is what good coaches in training do.

It’s so rewarding to realize we are fully committed to our becoming great at what we are passionate about. To see the progress in our practice, practicing is a great place to fail, it’s a great place to learn.

As the old saying goes: Practice Makes Perfect!