Practice Does Not Make Perfect
Several years ago at the National Spelling Bee, one of the young ladies really excelled among the others in the competition. With a bright smile, she confidently spelled each word without hesitation. After she had won the contest, she was being interviewed by the television network and was asked how she became just an outstanding speller. She looked directly into the camera and stated, “My success is due to two things, God and Practice!”
I spent the first sixteen and one-half years of my working life as an educator. Two particular coaches really stand out in my mind. One fellow would practice his football team hour upon hour, day upon day, week upon week. He would practice his team on weekends and holidays. His practice time ran for hours with disgruntled parents waiting in the parking lot to pick up their kids. He was known far and near as being a tough and demanding coach, a reputation which he treasured. His players seemed to always suffer from burnout and bad attitudes. This coach was known throughout the state as being a tough coach. The problem was he could never produce a championship team. In fact, he often struggled just to have a winning season! Then there was coach number two.
Coach number two had a whole different philosophy. His practice times were short but compact. The attitudes among his players were great. Every drill had a purpose. His practice time was filled with fun things that developed skills and motivated his athletes. The parents of his athletes loved him; the school board loved him; the Booster Club loved him; and his players loved him. He was always in demand as a public speaker at civic clubs and coaching clinics. Guess what? He also always produced the best teams, winning seasons, and led the conference in athletic scholarships for his players.
What was the difference in these two coaches? Coach number two had learned the secret of success. Contrary to Ben Franklin or whoever gets credit for the old saying… practice does not make perfect. Only “good” practice makes perfect! If a person does the same thing over and ever and over, but does it the wrong way, it is still wrong. That person is wasting his time, spinning his wheels and reinforcing the negative. A person has to determine the things that work and concentrate on strengthening and improving the little things that will enhance their success ratio. Doing the same thing over and over will produce the same results. If something is not working, then evaluate it (Remember the principals of management?), and make adjustments so that the results will be different. In the world in which we live, the winners have learned to do this whether it is in one’s personal life, business life, hobbies or in coaching!
A person can find true peace and self-actualization through accomplishment. On the other hand, continuous failure leads to a very sad and unfulfilling life. There are so many people who continue to live their lives in a rut that leads to nowhere. They work in jobs that they do not like, with people that they cannot tolerate and in positions that are unrewarding. This is so sad since life is full of opportunity, excitement and adventure. Why would anyone stay in a situation in which they merely exist instead of flourish? Life has too much to offer for one to waste away his precious years and trade each day of his life for a paycheck! That is why entrepreneurs are different from other people. There is something in their inner being that will not allow them to merely survive.
Zig Ziglar has inspired thousands upon thousands with his books and public appearances. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Ziglar several years ago and found him to be even more dynamic in person as he is in his books and on his tapes. Zig believes, as I do, that a good attitude is the most important personal asset that a person possesses. One’s outlook on life determines how far he will go. One’s attitude determines how one reacts to the inevitable failures that even the most successful people have to overcome. As Zig states, “It’s not what happens to you that is important, but rather how you react to what happens to you.” How true this statement is! When things don’t go right, do you fall apart? Do you lash out and blame others? Do you wallow in your failure or do you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and continue to plunge forward? We have all heard the stories of Thomas Edison and the number of times that he suffered defeat and setbacks in his endeavor to invent the light bulb and some of his other inventions. We have all heard the stories of Col. Harland Sanders and how he only found success with his Kentucky Fried Chicken idea after he retired from what he really did for a living. We have heard the story of Garth Brooks who was rejected time and time again by the major record labels in Nashville before a chance appearance at the Bluebird Café turned his life around. Garth went on to be the biggest single country act in history! These type stories go on and on. Zig states that, “One’s attitude, not his aptitude, will determine his altitude.” How true this statement is for the aspiring entrepreneur?
Over the years, I have discovered that entrepreneurs have a different outlook on life. There is the story about the young clerk in the department store who was approached by a customer who asked him if he was the manager. The young man looked up at the customer and quickly replied, “No sir! Not yet!” What a great answer! Just imagine if the young man had hanged his head and replied, “Oh no sir. Not me. I’m just a clerk.” What a different image that would have projected. There is another story about the two men who were both working side by side digging a ditch that was to be the foundation for a huge new palace. A passerby stopped and asked the first man what he was doing. Belligerently, he replied, “Can’t you see that I’m digging a ditch?” The passerby continued over to the second man and stated, “Well, I see that you are digging a ditch also.” “No sir”, replied the second man. “I’m building a palace!” Attitude! Attitude! Attitude!
Once, several years ago, I was watching one of the local television stations in my home town of Huntsville, Alabama. The local news had had a contest among the regional junior high school students and had selected one of the students to co-host the weather forecast. The young man that won the contest gave his weather report along with the station’s meteorologist. After the report, the meteorologist conducted a quick interview with the young man. He asked him about his education and future ambitions. The meteorologist concluded his interview by asking him if one day he wanted to be the weatherman at the station. The young man paused, and with a perplexed look on his face replied, “No sir! One day I want to own this station!” I could not help but get a lump in my throat when I heard his answer. That is the attitude that this country desperately needs! Why work at the station when you can own the station? That is the mindset of the entrepreneur.