Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Just because something gets repeated often, it isn’t necessarily true. Take the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.” While it’s accurate that repeating a learnable skill reinforces the actions and develops the memory needed to make performing the task easier, you can also practice doing something the wrong way, and get really good at making perfect mistakes.
You’ve likely seen this at the gym, where someone has bad form when lifting weights, or uses a well-engineered piece of fitness equipment the wrong way. Or, been in the audience with a speaker who has gotten really good at reading their prepared speech or PowerPoint, rather than getting good at giving the speech without reading it word-for-word.
The better saying is “perfect practice makes perfect.” How do you know if you’re practicing perfectly? By developing your practice habits with a coach, a mentor, a trainer or other professional who can examine what you are doing, and offer tips and suggestions to improve your performance. In the world of sales and marketing, the coach doesn’t have to be an expert in sales & marketing – they just need to be good at watching, listening, analyzing and communicating. If that sounds wrong, consider professional sports coaches. Quarterback coaches in the NFL are rarely former greats – the coach doesn’t have to be amazing at performing the skill – they need to be great at identifying ways you can improve.
You are already surrounded by people who can help you perfect your practice. Any high school teacher can give you tips to keep your audience engaged. A business friend that hears lots of sales pitches in his or her industry can share observations about your sales proposal. Automated tools can help you improve everything from writing (Grammarly) to website development (Google Search Central), and of course, there are dozens of professional coaches and trainers for virtually any business skill.
We’re not suggesting you need to be perfect in everything you do, but if you’re going to practice to get better, make it count. Perfect practice makes perfect.