First of all, I will apologize for the time between posts. It is competition season in the world of competitive cheerleading, which means lots of time traveling to events with my daughter and family. There are lessons to be learned while attending some of these competitions that can cross all ages and professions.
I have asked many groups in the past to tell me what the difference between amateurs and professionals is. Most equate the question immediately to sports stars, so I let it run from there. One of the first responses is always, “they get paid”. This is very true, but not the only thing I am trying to get them to see. After more answers, I rephrase my question. “Why do people practice so much?” The first response here is, “to get it right”. Now it is time for the “aha” moment.
Amateurs practice until they get it right, but professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong! Hmm…….
How many balls does Rory McElroy hit each day? How many jumps does Shawn White do before the X Games? How many balls doe Albert Pujols hit in the batting cage? Starting to get the picture here?
Local competitions, regionals, and then nationals the past month, have shown me another side of competitive sports. Watching a team of 8 to 11-year-old girls preparing for a competition is fun. It hearkens to the days when we were all younger and couldn’t wait for a big event to happen in our lives. The only thing is, none of them were nervous. As they put on their glittery eyes, huge hair bows, and all of their uniform regalia, they were just having fun. Some were playing hopscotch-type games with each other, while others were listening to music on shared devices.
And the venue, it was amazing. Two separate halls set up for teams. A floor area that was Olympic level, raised about 6 feet from the crowd. There were 30 rows of floor seats and another 40 in bleachers. Cameras rolling, concert quality sound systems, and light set up straight out of Hollywood. The parents were looking at each other saying wow. Welcome to the big time. As the team got ready to do their routine, the lights went down and smoke rolled onto the stage. As the team comes out, the voice of the Cheer Gods introduced them. They were treated like rock stars.
Then something amazing happened. They just went out and knocked it out. Just like they had practiced hundreds of times in the past. There were big smiles, stunts that stuck, and lots of cheerful faces. They had a ball. All of the hard work had paid off for them, and it was their time to shine.
As a professional, and as a manager, do you practice until you get it right? Or until you can’t get it wrong? Nobody is perfect, but you can reach excellence along the way to trying. How you practice your craft says a lot about you. Your team will know if you have been practicing and learning from events that take place in the workplace, as well as when you are not there. Tell them what you are working on, what you read, or what you are trying to do. Their involvement will lead you to success, and we all know that success begets success. Be the professional, not the amateur.
Just like the group of giddy cheerleaders, have fun. Practice hard, know your job, and stick it when the time comes. Glittery eyes are optional!