The secret to excellence is simple: you have to be willing to try, miss the mark, analyze what went astray, make adjustments and then try again. In short, you have to be willing to practice!
Image via Flickr by dgj103
And there it is, as simple as that. But it is really that simple? Probably not quite, because you do need to have some basic competencies in the area in which you seek to be excellent. But the difference between someone being truly excellent versus good or adequate is rarely (if ever) raw talent; it has significantly more to do with their willingness to invest time and energy in the form of practice.
What does this have to do with business or blogging you might ask? Quite a lot, actually. You see, this is a new blog for me. Technically it is number five in a series of blogs starting back in September of 2002 with a personal/private blog. But with each iteration I have learned something and I am pretty sure I have gotten better. I would call it practice! And although I am nowhere near what I would deem excellence, I finally feel like I might at least be headed in the right direction.
Not quite a week ago my friend and blogging mentor, Stacey of FreshStitches, posted about her “Next Great Blog Experiment“. But what caught my eye was the results of her LAST blog experiment. She committed to writing a blog post every day for a year. Part of it was to see about readership, but part was to see if she would have enough to say. Ultimately she did this for 18 months, and her content is consistently good. Although I haven’t directly asked her, I am guessing that part of the reason her content is so good is that she practiced … every day… for 18 months!
So I have decided to make a similar commitment to practice my blogging skills. The difference is that I am making the commitment through the end of the year (6 months). And although I will be blogging every day, I will be alternating days posting here and on my knitting blog which I share with Kellie Nuss, Two Sides of the Same Stitch.
Why do I believe that practice will lead to excellence? Because it has worked for me in the past. I have been told by lots of people I respect (including, but not limited to, my parents and husband), that I am an excellent speaker. Now I definitely have a gift of gab (basic competence), but speaking excellence is not just about talking. Excellent speakers are able to convey a message, explain a concept or share a new idea in a way that is both engaging and relatively easy to process.
People hire me to speak because I am able to do this in a variety of settings on a large range of topics. But the reason I am an excellent speaker is that I have been practicing for over 35 years. And no, I am not that old! My first “professional” gig was when I was about 12. No kidding!
The first time I spoke to a large group of people was when I prepared and gave the sermon for my local church of about 250 members. I know I talked too fast. There wasn’t quite enough content, but folks rarely complain about getting out of church early. And I am pretty sure I was not terribly profound. But I treated it like practice and learned from the first experience. By the time I gave my second sermon (age 14) I was able to slow down my speaking pattern. It was still not truly excellent, but it was better.
Years later, I can now confidently state that I am an excellent speaker. But it didn’t just happen; I worked at it and I practiced! So now I am going to work toward excellence here on the blog. I hope you will join me on my journey for excellence and chat with me along the way. After all, how do you get to Carnegie Hall……?