Don’t Let Perfect Stand in Your Way

Good morning! It’s Friday Eve! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

There’s always been an inside joke in show business, where a man asked a New York taxi driver how to get to Carnegie Hall, and the driver responded, “Practice, practice, practice.” I guess if you’re just looking for a seat in the audience, all you have to do is get dressed and buy a ticket. But if you’d like to enjoy the view from the stage, it takes a little more work.

A lot of things we do every day have become second nature. From brushing our teeth in the morning to tying our shoes, driving to work, and even doing our job all day, we’ve done it all so many times it takes little or no conscious thought. Depending on your job, that may not be a problem. But when somebody is cooking a meal they expect me to eat, I expect them to open their eyes now and then.

It’s what we’ve come to refer to as “phoning it in” … going through the motions without really being in the moment. I’ve done comedy shows where I just didn’t feel like I was really on my game. I didn’t bomb, but I didn’t rock the house, either. And when the show was over, I really couldn’t remember any particular moment onstage. I was just on autopilot, and it showed in the audience’s response.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? You’re in a meeting at work, talking to a customer, giving a new employee some training, or even helping your kid with their homework, and you realize halfway through you’re just phoning it in? You know the subject matter so well, you don’t even have to think about it. But in not thinking, you never really do your best. It’s just good enough.

Practice can get you to that stage, but too much practice can result in a lackluster performance. You don’t miss any of the notes – you could do this in your sleep. But it can become so automated, you forget the most important part of the job – yourself. If all a person wanted was to hear perfect music, they could buy a CD. They pay for a live performance because they want the best of you.

In my business, we encourage newer folks to scrimmage. Everybody who knows football knows what it means to scrimmage. It’s a game the team plays against itself, where nobody wins or loses, and nobody keeps score. You simply practice. You run your plays, work out the kinks, find those opportunities for improvement, and just get really good at whatever at the game.

Through scrimmaging, you reach that point where you can read any situation and adapt on the spot, finding the opening you need to rush through to the goal line. And once you reach that point, you’re ready to do it for real. You’ve fine-tuned your game to the point that you’re unstoppable. Success is simply a matter of stepping onto the field.

The problem is, some of us get so good at scrimmaging, we never move beyond it. We just keep practicing. “As soon as I get really good at this one part, I’ll be ready!” There’s nothing wrong with that, if your goal was simply to practice forever. But if you ever intended to take what you’ve learned and put it into practice, you have to take that leap of faith and step into the game. The real game.

Practice teaches you new skills and gives you confidence. But sometimes, we need a little less confidence and a little more faith. Confidence says, “I’ve got this!” Faith says, “I can handle this.” There’s a difference. And the more confident we become, the more we’re apt to just phone it in. We don’t do it on purpose. It just happens.

When you’re trying to learn a new skill, practice until you’re no longer dangerous. There’s a reason teenagers have to practice driving so long before they’re allowed to do it alone. But once you reach that point, stop holding yourself back. For every situation you can practice, there are ten more you never considered. And the only way you’ll ever get good at them is just to get out there and do it.

Know enough to know what has to be done. Know how to do the job safely and with an acceptable level of expertise. Then stop practicing and get in the game. There’s a whole new world waiting for you if you just take that next step. Be a little scared. Step outside your comfort zone. Somewhere out there lies the answer to your dreams. Find it. And once you do, don’t let anything stand in your way.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved