I once read a quote from K. Anders Ericsson about expertise. He said, “I have been walking for 48 years, but I am not getting any better at it.” His point? Just because you are doing something over and over again is no proof that you are getting any better at it.
Ericsson is the man who coined the 10,000-hour rule, which is often mistaken for the idea that repetition over time is what generates expertise. But that isn’t what his research shows. What makes you better is “deliberate practice. “ It’s the act of intentionally getting better.
I just checked my stats at www.thesalesblog.com. I have posted to the blog 3,102 times, but a couple hundred of those posts are videos or podcasts. Let’s call it 2,900 written posts. I have written 2,054,838 words in all the posts combined. If those words were books, that would be 34 books, the average word count being 60,000 words.
If you go back to the archives in 2009 and 2010, you will see that I was not a very good writer. Writing helped me improve my writing, but not so much as actually editing my own writing. I was intentional about improving, so I separated the writing from the editing, and I spent more time crafting sentences. I am still no Dan Pink or Malcolm Gladwell, but I have improved through deliberate effort (and I still have much more improving to do).
The problem with this concept of mastery is that most of us think the repetition alone is enough. Because we believe this, we aren’t intentionally trying to improve.
Even though you have made 1,000 sales calls, you may or may not be getting better at sales. You might have negotiated hundreds of contracts without ever improving your ability to craft a deal or defend the investment your client needs to make to produce the results you need. In most areas of our lives, like Ericsson suggests about walking, we are on autopilot.
It is possible to have the same year repeatedly. The stories on television and Facebook may have changed, but have you? Are you better than you were this time last year? Not in every area of your life, but in some area where you have made the decision to intentionally improve?
Here is the rub: You must be intentional about self-improvement. You have to be deliberate about your personal and professional development. The areas where you want to make an improvement will only improve when you “deliberately practice,” when you focus on the improvement in that area, becoming aware of the gaps in your performance, intentionally changing what you are doing, and modifying your approach as you notice the results of those changes.
Are You Getting Better?
- In what areas of your life are you right now having the same year you had last year?
- In what areas do you need to intentionally improve to generate the results you want—and the results you are capable of producing?
- What are you going to do to ensure that you do not have the same year and over and over again?
Hit reply to send me your thoughts, ideas, and stories. Hit forward to send this newsletter to someone you know who could benefit from thinking about proactively improving their performance in some area. Ask them to join us here each Sunday by signing up at www.thesalesblog.com/newsletter.
Happy Father’s Day!
Do good work this week, and I’ll see you back here next Sunday!
P.S. This newsletter is sponsored by my friends at SAP. If you need a CRM for your personal use or for your team, check out their Digital CRM here, and sign up for a free trial.
P.P.P.S. We are just a few weeks from launching The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales. I just finished designing the bonus packages, and those will go live in the next week or so. Bulk packages are going to be available soon. If you are considering buying books for your whole team, email me here so we can take care of you!