While I personally prefer the more attainable ‘highly competent’ to ‘perfect’ (although admittedly it doesn’t have quite the same ring…) this familiar proverb has been around for a number of years. It suggests that if we repeat something over and over we will eventually get better at it. How much we get better is entirely subjective though and is almost certainly linked to how much we want to.
I’ve been mulling over this proverb the last week as I’ve realised I have to develop a skill required for my job. Public speaking. Many of us do not like public speaking however it’s a skill several of us are required to have either for work, for university or to fulfil your duties as a member of a wedding party. I could have said to my boss ‘no I can’t speak in front of all those people because I turn an unbecoming shade of red and my tongue grows five times its normal size’ but I said yes because I know it’s useful for my career and I want to get better.
Will practice alone make me better? Perhaps. What is equally important is my awareness of my ability (or lack of). I wrote last month about reflection being useful to help you develop your skills because it raises your self-awareness. Becoming aware of what skills you have and what ones you want (or need) to develop means you’re already two steps ahead. For myself I left it a bit too late. I had the public speaking thrust upon me with no time to practice. I had to wing it and of course I went red and tripped over my words due to my abnormally large tongue! I would have much preferred to have already been aware of my lack of ability so I could remedy it (as much as possible) by getting in some practice before having to push myself out there. However, ‘better late than never’, as another proverb goes, and I now know that if I want to become ‘highly competent’ at public speaking I will need to practice. I’ve already looked into some courses for myself.
Whether or not practice does make perfect, having an awareness of the skill or task we are trying to get better at, if nothing more, is worth taking the time for.