The “3Ps”: Pressure, Practice, Perfection

By October 8, 2013 January 25th, 2017 Tips to Improve Performance

Last Updated on January 25, 2017 by Dave Schoenbeck

I perform in a very small musical group.  I really enjoy making a contribution, being part of a group, the creative outlet, and the amazing harmonic sounds when everyone performs their part correctly.

We practice a piece of music approximately 6 times over 3 weeks before a performance, and usually by the 4th time through it, it is almost completely error-free.  Certainly by the 6th or last practice, just an hour before the performance, we have it nailed.  Our confidence is high, we know our parts, we feel competent, and we are ready for the stage.

Then it happens……….  As the focus of the audience turns to the group and the song begins, subtle errors emerge, once perfect and practiced parts become stiff and foreign, musicians & singers become hesitant, a little fear creeps in, and what once appeared and sounded perfect, wobbles slightly to completion.  The audience sometimes knows that it isn’t quite right, but the musicians are acutely aware of what happened and it just feels terrible.

This doesn’t happen every time, but it has always makes me think about why it occurs and how comparable it is to our work & careers.

So here are some thoughts about what you can do:

  • Rethink your tendency to hire fast and immersion training.  The “sink or swim” program probably won’t work too well if you expect high performance and ultimately perfection.
  • Repetition and practice is incredibly important if you want consistent performance.  Think about surgeons, pilots, Special Forces, high-tech manufacturing, speech-making, sales calls, strategic planning, your golf game, etc.  Do your people get enough practice time?
  • Honest and fearless debriefing after an event or meeting can fix future problems and instill confidence even when emotions run high.  Competence breeds confidence.
  • Rising pressure builds anxiety in your people.  Manage their safety valves.  How is your EQ?  How closely do you watch them or do you subscribe to the “give it time” club?
  • Be prepared to spend some extra time with your new direct report before and after their first presentation.  Your invested time could substantially imprint his/her future.

What other ideas came to you?  I wish you success!

Coach Dave

Dave Schoenbeck
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