We have all heard the saying that “practice makes perfect”. We see examples of that principle working in other people’s lives. Many of us marvel at the talent of a LeBron James or Michael Jordan. They fly through the air and dominate their opposition with what looks like the greatest of ease.
We watch as top online marketers earn money hand over fist. Their product launches earn millions and their marketing is flat out beautiful.
But what many don’t consider are the countless hours of practice that go into what the public ultimately sees.
I can tell you from experience that a Ray Edwards or David Garfinkel level copywriter has written literally thousands, if not tens of thousands of headlines to get where he is today.
A polished presenter like Brendon Burchard has spent countless hours alone polishing his presentation, considering what combination of words and phrases sound right while delivering maximum value.
And top advertising executives like David Ogilvy wrote thousands of drafts of long form sales letters that made the products they promote household names.
The bottom line is simple …
Practice makes perfect
So how can we apply this to our lives today?
I believe there are four keys to putting the habit of practicing what matters most into practice in our lives today.
1. Identify core skills
In any endeavor there are skills that matter and those that don’t matter to the main objective.
The skills that matter most are what I call “core skills”.
In my world, Internet marketing, core skills include things like …
- Creating content: Articles, videos, podcasts and more to help readers.
- Writing advertising copy: Including solo ads, sponsor ads and more.
- Writing headlines. Because headlines matter most.
- Writing email messages, both HTML and plain text.
- Creating products that help people solve a problem.
- Creating the right offer so people will buy my products.
- Ensuring our customer service is world class.
If you look at that list closely you will see I’m practicing what I teach in my article about the DMS method. You can read that article here if you like.
Think about your business and make a list of core skills that need to be mastered.
If you are stuck starting the list, look to leaders in your industry and make a list of their common characteristics.
Keep this list of core skills handy. You’ll want to practice them often.
2. Practice what matters most
The next step is the hard one. It’s the one that calls for sweat. For being uncomfortable. For doing what you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do it so that someday you can do anything you want, anytime you want.
The old joke goes like this. A tourist asks a man on the streets of New York how he can get to Carnegie Hall.
The local replies with one word … “practice”.
Funny, and true.
The only way to get to the top of our game, to be the best we can be, is practice.
Sports and business biographies are chocked full of people who became household names not because of God-given talent but because of practice.
In fact, the more you look at the stand up paddle boarding basics, you will see hard work and dedication helping people rise to the top much more often that the “naturals” ever do.
Of course, taking natural talent and adding to it consistent practice is what often creates peak performance.
Here’s one key to practice that works well for me.
Put time to practice in your calendar.
If you literally schedule in time to practice the core skills you need to succeed in your chosen field you will make time your ally. And that is powerful.
The bottom line is simple – top performers practice. They practice on their way to the top, once they get to the top and it’s how they stay over the top.
3. Get feedback
Working in isolation is rarely a good thing. Good if you are a monk, not so much if you are in business or a creative pursuit.
Working in isolation skews our view of what we produce, our view of our own development and limits us to an internal dialogue that often sees faults more than progress.
This is why having a mentor matters so much.
If you have a relationship with an accomplished person in your field you have a teacher, a guide, a kind critic who can help you develop quickly.
I will be the first to admit this is hard to find. Successful people are busy. They often don’t have time to help all those who need their help, or that they would like to help.
But here persistence is key. Persist until you find a person who will review your work, discuss your work and help you make a plan. No matter what your field of endeavor, finding a more experienced soul to share the journey will help you more that words can say.
4. Never stop practicing
No matter how good you get, no matter how famous you become, never forget what got you there.
As we say in Texas “dance with the one what brung ya.”
No, we don’t really speak that way. 🙂
But the sentiment is right. Practice will get you to the top and keep you there.
This is true for many reasons – chief among them that the other people in your field simply won’t find the discipline to do what needs to be done to achieve peak performance.
They will be able to tell you the plot line of every episode of Downton Abbey, but they will forever wonder why they did not achieve more.
So you be the one who will.
- The one who will make the commitment to practice.
- The one who will schedule in time to practice.
- The one who will show up to practice, even when it’s hard.
- The one who will continue practicing even after your skills grow.
- And the one who will help those who come after you by mentoring those who are where you once were.
If you do these things in your chosen field I truly believe you will go farther faster than you previously imagined. You will go not only to the top but over the top.
And over the top is a beautiful place indeed!