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Debunking The 'Practice Makes Perfect' Myth – A Harsh Truth About Leadership

Is an expert in personal & professional leadership transformations refined with a touch of Zen. As a former Officer & Special Forces Operator, executive in international & intercultural corporate positions and founder of his boutique business.

Executive Contributor Lars Friedrich

Practice makes perfect! Undoubtedly, we've all heard that phrase many times before, often linked to motivation or self-leadership, and we've probably also taken it for granted.

Rear view shot of a businessman looking outside the window

But here is the thing…


Practice makes permanent, not perfect!


Because too often, when we practice, we reinforce inefficiencies, mistakes, or errors in our activities, exercises, training, abilities or skills.


As a result, we can quickly become permanent or proficient at doing the wrong things!


Our ability to recognise and correct minor errors is compromised when we recall skills under high stress and pressure while exposed to obstacles, unforeseeable adversity, challenges, and accompanying setbacks.


A particular workplace scenario of most executives and leaders in corporate and entrepreneurial business environments!


As a result, not only do they repeat the mistakes they reinforced in practice, but they also become worse at noticing those mistakes because their self-awareness gets compromised.


Paying attention

So, when executives and leaders are motivated to evolve and improve as part of their self-leadership development, they should pay attention to the little things that don't matter in a safe and too often theoretical or even constrained environment.


"Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily." Epictetus

Additionally, they should ask themselves what little behaviours that don't affect them in that chosen setting might impact a professional, high-stakes, real-world environment when needed!


It could be a subtlety in their self-talk, how they plan, prepare, handle minor setbacks, or what they do when stressed and fatigued.


Because all real-world conditions and scenarios in their chosen business environments will amplify those things, and they can only correct them by practicing actively before!


Once it's performance time, they're carrying out the patterns they've built in the past, not learning new ones.


So clearly, having the self-awareness of paying attention to the details of what they're reinforcing is vital because there must be a reason why they practice and want to improve.


Hopefully, a clear pre-defined goal with a desired outcome in the first place!


Perfect practice

Considering all the already information given, it's time to debunk one of the greatest leadership myths:


Practice does not make perfect! Only perfect practice makes perfect!


"I fear not the man who has practiced 10.000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10.000 times.” – Bruce Lee


But is it realistically achievable to be perfect?


Interestingly, even taking on the highly promoted “practice makes perfect” mindset, many people also seem afraid of perfection, as they feel they are setting themselves too high under pressure.


Also, too often, in corporate and entrepreneurial business environments, perfection turns out to be the enemy of many executives and leaders, and striving for it holds them back from truly achieving.

Excellence, not perfection

Generally, striving for perfection is a journey, not a destination!


But instead of perfection, executives and leaders may strive for progress by pursuing excellence, as it is not a skill but a prevailing attitude.


Unlike the idea of perfection!


When they decide to do that, they should ensure their practice is correct and adapt if any identified mistakes make it necessary.


Because evidently, practicing correctly distinguishes between first and second place, success or failure, ordinary or extraordinary, leadership or exemplary leadership.


Only if executives and leaders are up for the journey of personal development, pursuing excellence, continuous progress, and the needed self-awareness and self-leadership of their practice...


Then will perfect practice make perfect!


Lars Friedrich, Leadership Expert

Lars Friedrich is an expert in personal & professional leadership transformations refined with a touch of Zen. As a former Officer & Special Forces Operator, executive in international & intercultural corporate positions and founder of his boutique business, he has vast accumulated experience, expertise & knowledge in leadership, resilience, endurance, commitment, persistence & dedication. Furthermore, Lars Friedrich trained in traditional Japanese Martial Arts for 42 years and frequently travels to Japan for his ongoing tuition, which amplifies his experience. With family ties & homes in Australia, Finland & Germany, he is proudly serving & guiding male & female leaders via shared knowledge & passion.



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