Practise Does Not Make Perfect

CaptureI just bought a guitar amp. My second guitar amp. I bought the first one in the eighties and sold it when I reluctantly got a job. Marshall 100 watt stack. Nice.

I kept at the guitar for all these years. Just without any amplification. So I buy this 40 watt Fender amp for my son’s 10th birthday. But it’s really for me.

I wait until the neighbours are out and I crank the amp up to 11 and I hit it.

But there’s a problem. My guitar playing is awful.

Really awful.

I don’t understand this because I can play the guitar.

What’s going wrong?

It’s this…

I’ve got sloppy.

You cannot hear it when you play an electric guitar unamplified. Frankly, an unamplified electric guitar doesn’t sound that great. It is tinny and jangly.

My “hit the right strings” with the plectrum hand is way off. I can do the left hand stuff fine…finger the chords and do my left hand lead patterns (what Keith and us guitar heroes call licksman.)

But there’s not much point in only having one of your hands working. You need to hit the right strings or all is mush.

So I need to re-learn right hand accuracy. Dammit. All because I wasn’t hearing what I was doing so I didn’t notice it getting sloppy. 

And of course this makes me think about my work.

I cannot remember when I first felt no fear in talking for an hour or so without notes to a new audience. I will ask them what they want to talk about and I have no doubt that I can speak for an hour on what they want and do it well. And they’ll love it (usually) and some of them will want to meet me afterwards and all that good stuff.

This is broadcasting and I broadcast often.

This blog is also a broadcast and despite my audience having an aversion to making public comments here on the blog (boo) I do get a lot via email :-)

I do a webinar every Wednesday at 6pm which is like being a radio DJ because no one talks to you. You have to hold up a conversation all by yourself. Which is easy peasy.

I’ve been broadcasting in one form or another for some time.

And because I hear myself…

…and others hear me I get feedback (sometimes in the form of mass unsubscribes from this blog!) So I can hone what I do.

It is tempting to perfect what you do before broadcasting it. But this is of course wrong. It is through the broadcasting that you perfect it.

So whatever it is you do, do more of it. Push it out there. You may not have an “audience” but you do have recipients of your value creation. They are your audience. And who cares if some of them want a more polished form of what you do. The more polished form isn’t available yet! You are polishing it right now.

It’s interesting watching my son learn to play the guitar. He doesn’t practise without the amp. He doesn’t try to get perfect before broadcasting, he just hammers away. We haven’t had any feedback from the neighbours yet but I am sure it will come. (I may actually have got a sour look yesterday when I was cutting the grass.)

So we should broadcast as the default.

Whatever broadcast means to you…whatever your thing is. Sales, marketing, managing, speaking…

By all means practise in a darkened room if you need a confidence booster, but remember practise isn’t real…it can only be an approximation of the performance. Never swerve an opportunity to get in front of your audience, whoever your audience is.

It’s best to practise in front of your audience. Because it’s real.

Someone said that it isn’t practise that makes perfect, it’s perfect practise that makes perfect.

And practising in front of your audience is a lot more perfect that the darkened room approach. And the quickest way to mastery…

4 Responses to Practise Does Not Make Perfect

  1. Keith Plumb September 24, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    Well I love your blog even if no one else does. Keep it up

    • Mark Nugent September 24, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

      Hi Keith – everyone loves it, they just express their love privately. They’re shy.

  2. Amanda Fairclough September 24, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    I love your blog too, Mark!

    This post made me think about how I preach (the Sunday job, not my day job, although some of my clients might argue about that). I almost never write my sermons now, and haven’t for a couple of years. Instead, I do my preparation by talking to myself in my head. Which is fine as long as the other voices keep quiet. But seriously, I’ve found that practising what I’m going to say and how is so much more “real” that writing what I think I should be saying. Yes, sometimes it doesn’t go quite as I’d planned or hoped, but sometimes that’s in a good way.

    A note of caution; I NEVER fail to write funeral sermons, which are the exception. Sometimes you’ve just got to be sure you’ll get the details right…

    • Mark Nugent September 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Thanks Amanda. My cunning attempt to get people to comment publicly seems to be working…

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