Because Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect

 In Blog

If I have learned one thing it’s that there are lessons everywhere.

Take a kindergarten Christmas concert for example. Have you been to one lately? The kids memorize their songs; they make their placards displaying greetings in other languages (Aloha! Konnichi wa!); they practice their line-up and stage entrance. The big night comes: the room is filled with parents wielding video cameras. The class hits the stage and, well, things aren’t perfect. A girl on one end dances to her own beat. A boy in the front holds his “Ciao!” sign upside down. The boy on the left refused to wear a white button-down like the others and instead has chosen a striped green rugby shirt.

Some things you can’t control no matter how much you practice.

As a radio personality, you can practice your communication skills — active listening, using “you” instead of “I”, even storytelling principles — every day, in every conversation. Managers can practice presentations in front of a mirror or a trusted colleague. Musicians and athletes train for years. You can practice and practice and practice; yet practicing cannot ever activate the adrenaline that kicks in when it’s time to perform.

I know a drummer who had been considered excellent at one school, only to find his skill level average at his new more advanced school. As confident as he had been, he was now insecure about his abilities. He asked his teacher, “How do I perform? I’m not good enough.”

The teacher gave him great advice. “When you are here with me, you practice with as much focus and intention as you can. You practice every day. When you are on stage, let it all go, listen to the music and have fun. That’s all you can do.”

Like the kindergarteners and the drummer, and any personality, performer or athlete, when it’s time to get out there, the practice and planning have been done. All you can do is do your best, stay in the moment and let go. There will be plenty of time for evaluation later.

A Perfectly Imperfect Kindergarten Christmas Concert, December 13, 2011, Toronto
My daughter, front row, 8th from left


-written by Angela Perelli


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