Many individuals and companies hang their hats on their years of experience or combined years of experience as a whole. But here’s the thing, experience does not equal expertise. Focusing your energy on being the best will not get you the results you’re hoping for. Becoming an expert takes much more than having experience.
When I was young, I played hockey for a league down in Florida (ironic, right?). Before the season began, my coach said something to me that has stuck with me ever since. “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”
From that point on, whether it be in sports or in building my career, I found myself always trying to practice perfectly.
Years of doing something incorrectly will never allow you to become an expert in your field, and years of training those under you incorrectly is a disservice to them. Unfortunately, the cycle will continue until you realize that practice doesn’t make perfect. The process of practicing perfectly is difficult, but it’s something every good manager and employee needs to learn.
So how do we practice perfectly?
1: Implement clear, concise, and correct processes from the very beginning. Whether you need more structure for yourself or you are managing a team, a structured process is imperative for growth.
2: Never stop learning. Accept that no matter how many years you’ve been doing something, you are not a guru. Continue to grow and learn from those around you, including those under you.
3: Evaluate your experience. Being honest with yourself in evaluating whether you’ve been doing things the right or wrong way is a major key to growth and success. From a business standpoint, knowing that you’re doing things “the old way” simply because that’s all you know is the first clue that there’s far more you need to learn. Accept that there will always be room to grow.
The definition of an expert is “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.” There’s one keyword that sticks out, right? Authoritative. When you practice perfectly you become the authority on something. This is not something gained just by doing something repeatedly, it’s something gained by constantly pushing yourself and accepting that there is no end to learning and growing.
After a decade in marketing, I still make sure to learn new things, read new books, and attend as many webinars as possible. Personally, being humble is the main key to my success. I know that there will always be new methods and best practices and my goal should be to learn them before my competitors.
What I want you to take away from this article is one thing – evaluate your experience. Take a moment to reflect on what you do know, what you could be better at, and what you could be lacking. There’s no shame in not knowing something, but there is shame in pretending that you know everything.
“Experience doesn’t make you wiser, evaluated experience makes you wiser” – Andy Stanley