If anyone has played organized sports, taken music lessons, or been in school at all, he or she has probably been told that “practice makes perfect!” Well, as much as I love the idea that all practice should make perfect, I would like to challenge the truth to this saying. So, here are 3 reasons why I believe that practice does not always make perfect.
1. Practice makes HABITS.
When I was a volleyball coach, I often corrected my players numerous times on difference techniques that they were either learning for the first time or trying to polish. Sometimes after several years of working with the same players, it was obvious the ones who had actually grown to be more skilled versus the ones who did not seem to progress at all. What could possibly have caused one player to grow and develop successfully and the other to stay stagnant? I believe part of the answer was that lots of practice develops habits, but not necessarily great habits. If there is a particular foot pattern to follow that best allows a player to achieve maximum velocity and height when they jump and hit a volleyball and one player masters that correctly and the other masters it incorrectly, they will end up at opposite ends of the finished goal. One will be great, and the other will stay mediocre because she only perfected a bad habit (in this case the wrong foot pattern).
2. We practice the WRONG THINGS.
We are all created as unique individuals with different gifts, talents, and skills that all need to be developed to their fullest potential. So, what do we do if we are not good at certain things? Oftentimes, we spend too much time focusing on the things we are not good at and try to get better at those skills. Well, if we take a “weakness” and work really hard, we can only get mediocre at best at that skill. What if instead we practiced the things we are good at – our strengths and learned how to increase our effectiveness in how God has naturally gifted each one of us? I think if we all did that, we would see greater growth in our personal and spiritual lives.
I remember working with one player in college who had a phenomenal vertical (she could jump out of the gym!). However, she was not a very strong or powerful hitter but was an incredible blocker. We could have worked with her daily on her hitting and she would have gotten better but only to a small degree. So instead we focused on her blocking abilities and strengthened those skills so that by her senior year she was one of the top middle blockers in the nation. I am so glad we chose to do that rather than have her spend countless hours practicing a skill she just was not very good at executing.
3. We try to practice all ON OUR OWN.
It is extremely tempting in this life to go all on our own, and I am probably the guiltiest of doing this! The reason that practicing on our own will probably not lead to perfection is that we can only be as good as our knowledge allows us to be. We need to be around others who are better than us, who are further along in life than us, and who have had more success than we have had.
In summer volleyball training camps, we would often pair up players who were not quite at the same skill level for different drills. In the end, the players who worked with and against those who were better, eventually performed better themselves. There is something about working with and competing against someone better than you that can help to elevate your own performance.
So let’s all make sure that while we are practicing our skills at online business, blogging, coaching, speaking, writing or whatever it may be we do not forget to develop great habits by using our strengths and surrounding ourselves with people who are better than we are.