What is on your list of goals for 2015?
I recently met someone who was studying at University. It made me realise that curious people love learning information. I am a self confessed course junky. I love learning new information. However some things cannot be learned in books. Some things we need to experience and do. If it's presenting we need to put into practise speaking in front of different crowds and crafting our message. If it's communicating we need to understand assertiveness in action. We need to be skilled at being consistent in our communication. Understand the detail of the words we choose to say. If it's selling and negotiating we need to plan and put the plan into action. Action and Practise is key.
I have been a professional actress and performed amongst other places, the National Theatre with some of the best UK directors. I often do voice overs and feel very skilled at doing that because my skills have been constantly honed and practised. However my skills at performing a Shakespearian character may need brushing up. My dear friend, Michele Moran however is a true acting professional, she performs regularly and her skills are honed. She would easily and skilfully perform a lead Shakespearian character on any stage. She's constantly practising her skill and art.
The same applies to athletics and exercising. I ran the London marathon in 2005 in a reasonable 4 hours 23minutes. I regularly ran 10k runs. I could and do run 5k runs but I couldn't run a 10k or a marathon tomorrow, I'd need to practise my skills more regularly by running two or three times a week. I know it will take me about 3 weeks to start "remembering" my skills again, get hooked and starting being able to think about the detail. The first few weeks will be just getting through it.
Some amateurs practise regularly. I've been wondering what the difference between an amateur and professional is. The official idea is the difference between being paid and not being paid. However I think it's about the passion for detail. Amateurs often think they're very good at a skill but they don't consistently practise it or get good at the detail. A professional can perform a skill and a task very well even when they're not motivated to do it. A professional is constantly improving and working on the small details. My friend, Bob Cairns is a top violin player and has coached Nicola Benedetti. Bob plays his violin every day and so the sound he achieves from his violin is exquisite and the speed of his fingers jaw dropping.
So practising theory is essential. It's not the courses you go on this year it's what you learn to put into practise that counts. Ask yourself what do I want to get good at then, find out how you can hone and practise the skill you need to improve. Not once. Not twice but every day or at least two or three times a week. This is the way to be an outstanding professional in what you do.
Remember if you did a presentation last January, you may need to practise presenting to smaller groups regularly. If you're managing difficult people, you may need to practise your consistent behaviour and language patterns. If you're wanting to sell and negotiate more effectively you may need to network regularly with potential clients and consciously negotiate and understand your ideal settlement zone in lots of situations e.g. family, friends, market stalls!
Learning is addictive. Being able to put it into practise is not only addictive, it gets results. It will move you closer to your ideal success. So go on practise!