If anyone has ever said to you that half the battle is just showing up, I think they’re right. I’ve written a blog post about the power of practice and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours concept; and part of the reason just showing up is half the battle is that it gets you the repetitions required to get some level of competency with something. A big part of being successful is just showing up, being there continuing to work on things, having a routine, and being able to improve. Another big part of this is following instructions. If you show up and you’re not doing the right things, practicing the right behaviors, or practicing the right skills then there is no point. You’re not going to get as much benefit out of showing up as you could have.
One of the things you realize, particularly as you get a little bit older, is that time really is the most precious commodity. So how you spend the hours of your day, and the days of your months are cumulative and important. If you want to get to 10,000 hours of practice or repetition of any given thing you’re going to have to regularly show up and do it, and the quality of that practice is important in determining how many days and how many repetitions you’ll actually require to master it. I know that in jiu jitsu there is a lot of emphasis put on not just repetition and on showing up, but on perfect practice and that every imperfect repetition requires at least two perfect repetitions to erase the stain of the imperfect one. That’s a valuable thought in our work world as well. So as you start to think about the things that you’re doing every day to improve yourself and to improve your performance on the job, it’s important to focus on doing those things right and taking the right approach to them.
I also think that there is a sort of a corollary to perfect practice and the problems that come from imperfect practice, which is perception. The perception in the work world of how you carry yourself and your actual performance is probably dictated by how well you’re doing your daily routine and how focused you are on doing things the right way. How you do those little things every day creates a long term lasting impression of who you are on your coworkers, your teammates, your leadership, and your boss. This perception and impression is going to have an effect on how they interact with you, which will in turn have enormous long term effects on how successful you are. Not only is this true in work, but to take it back the other direction it’s true in jiu jitsu as well or any endeavor really. If you have an instructor or a mentor that’s kind enough to share their time to help you improve, one of the things that they expect in return is for you to invest time in yourself to carry things off the right way.
I know that personally when you’re really trying to help somebody succeed, it’s disheartening if you see them maybe not putting in the same level of effort to help themselves as you are. So I think it’s not only important to be aware of how you’re working toward something, but also to be aware of how you think others perceive your efforts. I know that some people will say, “Well it shouldn’t matter how other people see you, just work hard and you’ll get where you want to go,” but I think other people are a good barometer. Sometimes we’re not very good judges of ourselves. So if you could take another person’s perspective and see things through their eyes, you may be more honest with yourself then you otherwise would be. I don’t fall in the camp of “just focus on you because that’s all you can control,” because I think there’s sometimes a tendency for us to not be as truthful to ourselves as we would be. Anyway, it’s important to show up, it’s important to do things the right way because there is much less value in just showing up if you’re not doing things the right way, and I think it’s important to understand how other people see you. So think about what people see of you from the standpoint of what are you doing when you the get in the door, and what are you doing as you execute on the job because those things are going to dictate how much of themselves they put towards helping you and what you do. Let me reiterate that it’s not likely somebody’s going to help someone who is not working hard themselves. I’d be very interested to hear what other people think about this. Have they had an experience where they reached out and invested a lot of time and effort in trying to help somebody to succeed and felt as though they wanted it more than that person?
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