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Proper planning avoids poor performance - plus practice makes perfect!

Yes, I do like a bit of alliteration …

I considered titling this that infamous Yoda line: “Do! Or do not. There is no try!” because I remember how perplexed I was on first hearing it. I thought it was some sort of knit-pick over selection of language not being active enough, you know a criticism of lack in commitment being made. Because often, when people say they will try, they are usually already on the road to finding the excuse why they end up not doing it.

But, actually, I believe what that wise Star Wars guru was telling us is to make a decision, an active choice, “Just Do It” (oh I’m so full of the clichéd catch phrases today) ... or decide not to. That there’s nothing wrong with giving a decision consideration, in taking time to research and investigating the practicalities. If your research throws up a practicality that would make ‘Do not’ the better choice, then go with that. But if the only thing holding you back is the fear, then it’s time to ‘Do!’

But we all know that fear – usually of failure or of ridicule – is not quite as easy to overcome as jolly old Nike make it sounds. And that’s where my bit of alliteration in the title comes in to play.

1. Plan 2. Practice 3. Learn from previous mistakes 4. Plan properly 5. Practice more 6. And repeat, until you get Perfection

If you’re not expert at the planning process, don’t worry – it’s a learning curve, even for natural planners. So, sit down and make your first plan – then test it out. By practising, you’ll discover which parts of the plan worked well, and which didn’t. Excellent – aim achieved! No beating up of self now, on to drafting the next plan. Start by filling in the holes you discovered in the first plan. Then think about how you could improve the plan – break things down into smaller steps, make it more detailed, or add something entirely new to try out. Then get out and test that re-drafted plan. The Practice phase will keep teaching you something, until that day when you achieve Perfection.

Ah, the nirvana of perfection … Not quite so achievable as those pesky perfectionists amongst us would like to believe. This is where one mentions phrases like ‘good enough’ and ‘realistic limitations’. One of the most demanding perfectionists I even saw in public life was Jonny Wilkinson, a world class rugby player with great raw talent, but someone who was exceptional because he planned, practised, and learned from mistakes made, ad infinitum. When he met a player who could do something he couldn’t, he’d get his personal coaches to develop a training programme so he could learn it. But even Jonny, who learned the skills of 10 out of 15 players on the field, even he had to accept that he just didn’t have the right physical make-up for the rest.

Mind you, it surprised me that he didn’t give hooker a go … Yes, OK, so that was a bit of a cheap joke. But the hooker is the guy who chucks the ball in to a line-up of the biggest blokes on the field, all leaping, jostling and competing to catch it and it actually requires extraordinary skill and accuracy … something I think would be right up Jonny’s street. But it also requires certain whispered-about front-row dark-arts, and that was a bridge too far, even for our Jonny.

So, in the aim of perfection – know thyself, accept realistic limitations, then aim high, as high as you can reach! But keep on planning and practising …

© 2016 Caring Coaching originally posted 9th May 2016