A lot of people say that practice makes perfect.
Well, that’s a load of bull.
It really is. And don’t think I’m going the direction of “perfect practice makes perfect.” Because that isn’t true either. Nothing is ever perfect, much less practice. It doesn’t make perfect because practice is never done. Even when you reach your highest goals, your pinnacle of achievement, your job is not over. It can’t be.
You must always push the envelope and keep trying to get better.
People often ask me how to be successful in their endeavors. The truth is, there is no magic formula for success. While there are books and blogs and gurus out there who will try to sell you on the idea that all you have to do is employ “this one tactic,” the only thing that will result in you reaching your goals is…gasp, wait for it…hard work over the course of time.
I know. What a let down. I wrote this catchy headline that hooked you into believing I was going to give you the magical golden ticket, only to tell you something that you’ve heard your whole life. (To be fair, I did put the warning in there.)
Ah, but take heart.
You see, hard work isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s all about working hard on the things that energize you, the things you feel passionate about, and the things you want to do. When you are working on those kinds of things, it is less like work, and more like fulfilling a purpose. It is putting passion and desire into practice.
Malcom Gladwell spoke about how, to become exceptional in your field, it takes ten thousand hours of work to truly reach success. That’s a lot of practice. I mean, that could be a few years worth of working on something before you achieve what you’re striving for.
I agree with his analysis in that, the more you practice your craft, the better you will become at it. However, you don’t have to put in ten thousand hours to be successful tomorrow, next week, or next month. He is talking about reaching that peak of expertise.
All you need to do is set small goals at first, and put in the effort.
When I first started out writing books, my immediate goals were not about becoming a best selling author. They were much simpler than that. I set a goal to just publish a book. So, I set another goal to write so many words per day. In the back of my mind, my dream was to become a best selling author, but my focus was on the little goals, because working on those daily things is what will get you to success.
You may or may not know that I work in a high school during the day as a school guidance counselor. I also coach the Men’s soccer team. Whenever we have practice, I concentrate much of my effort on focusing the guys on the little things that will lead to success. We can talk about strategy all day, talk about the other team, or dream of what it would look like to win the region or a big championship.
But none of that is as helpful as focusing on the small pieces of work. Practicing, or working hard on those things build toward success.
There will be those who say, “Not everyone can be good at something they love,” or “Not everyone gets to do a job their passionate about.”
I hear you. And I understand your doubts. To that I ask, why not? And more importantly, why not you?
Can’t quit your day job to pursue your dream? Good news. You don’t have to.
I’ve proven it. I work a full-time job, coach soccer, blog, and write books. What are you going to do? What do you want to do? What is holding you back?
One of my favorite entrepreneurs, Pat Flynn, is always talking about taking action. For a long time, I wondered what he meant by that. I knew I had to take action to make things happen, but I wasn’t sure exactly what actions to take. Turns out it was much simpler than I’d imagined. All I had to do was start working a little every day.
I’m going to leave you with an example of someone who has never let anything get in his way. Jon Morrow is a writer. He’s a great writer, actually. He mostly does works with blogging and is one of the people high up with the website Copyblogger.
Jon has an illness that prevents him from being able to use his hands. Wait a minute! How is he a writer? He uses voice recognition software and he has been extremely successful as a writer.
What is holding you back? Want to start a company? What to be a pastry chef? Want to write a book?
All it takes is some hard work and starting with small, simple actions. If you want to make pastries, don’t go to some cooking school to learn how. Start by making them today and giving them away to co-workers. Tomorrow, sell them to your co-workers. If you want to write a book, start by writing a short story or a novella. Write five hundred words today. Then do it again tomorrow.
That’s it. That’s the magical recipe for success. Practice. You get up, do that thing you dream about doing a little at a time. Then, do it again tomorrow. Repeat.
Paraphrasing blogger Chris Guillebeau, he said it takes a lot of hard work, and a lot of time to make an overnight success. Or in other words, success requires a lot of practice. And while it may not result in perfection, practice can result in great achievements.
Today is day one. What are you going to do?