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“Practice, Practice, Practice”

| April 29, 2014

by Jim Bruce

This week’s Tuesday Reading, “Practice, Practice, Practice” was written by Lucrecia Kim-Boswell as a leadership reflection earlier this year in one of the IT Leaders Programs.  Lucrecia is an IT Capacity Manager at Stanford University.   

“I had a session with my boxing coach some weeks ago where we made a key discovery.  For weeks, he had been trying to figure out why my punches weren’t executing properly.  Every few minutes, he would stop and say, “no, you’re doing this…” while making a dog paddle motion.

“We slowed down to 20% speed and went through the motions and figured it out.  It was a timing issue and I wasn’t pulling my arm all the way back, I was pulling it down instead.   By the next round, I was on fire.  There is a loud popping sound you hear when your glove hits the mitt.  With each punch, you could hear the pop throughout the gym.

“Each session in the leader’s program is the leadership equivalent of my slowing things down.  We learned how to break down strategic planning into a series of steps, the notion of presence and being intentional was introduced and valuable lessons on the types of impressions we are making were learned.  When fighting while your body is exhausted, all of your technique goes out the window.  The same goes for leadership techniques between sessions.  You’re back at work, you’re in meetings all day and can barely keep your head above your inbox.  You can’t stop to think strategically, you have an overdue operations report!  

“At the end of my boxing session, I jokingly said to my coach, “I was watching a fight on TV the other night.  How do those guys do it?  How do they remember to keep their stance, hands up, chin tucked, extend their arms when they throw a punch and slip?  Once fatigue sets in, I start to lose it; on top of that, these guys are getting punched!  How do they do remember it all?”

“He looked at me with a serious face and said, “Because they aren’t thinking about it, it’s a reaction.  That is what distinguishes the best fighters from the great.”  He made me realize the same goes for leadership.  The greatest leaders practice, practice, practice.  They do it to the point where they are don’t have to think, doing the right thing is just a reaction.”

As Lucrecia writes, it is all about practice.  Think about your work as a leader and identify one thing that could use more practice.  Then set aside some time this week to work on it.

.  .  .     jim