I was flicking through the TV channels the other day when I came across a programme about Carl Lewis the legendary athlete who emulated Jesse Owens at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 by winning four gold medals.
This was an unforgettable achievement but there was one moment that really caught my attention.
Lewis’ coach was talking about how the long jump was his favourite event and how he practiced his run up so often that it became “automatic”.
Hearing this reminded me of other occasions when I’ve heard the use of practice and repetition have helped someone to strive for greatness.
Steve Jobs was famous for the way he brought new products to life but what people don’t often realise is that he would practice the presentation hundreds of times to hone his message and make sure that the delivery could practically roll of his tongue.
Johnny Wilkinson, the World Cup winning fly half, is another who used to practice all elements of his game incessantly. Particularly when it came to his kicking he was maniacal about ensuring he did everything on the training ground to ensure success on the pitch.
Against these examples I think about the practice that I see on a day to day basis.
Do we practice that presentation until it is so well known that we could almost recite it in our sleep?
Do we go over those difficult conversations we need to have time and time again so that we can ensure the message is delivered to maximum effect?
I know from personal experience that the answer is almost always “no”.
If we want to become more skilled in any task we need to commit to making it flow like “it’s automatic”.