Nov 082011

Distributed Practice: Practice Right So You Can’t Get It Wrong

Distributed practice: By Harvey Mackay, Excerpted from The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Read World by Harvey Mackay, Via  Jeffrey Gitomer’s Sales Caffeine #522 ~ Do You Have Your Mackay MBA?, 11/8/11

Practice makes perfect … not true. You have to add one word: Perfect practice makes perfect.

I wish that I had coined that phrase, but I didn’t. Vince Lombardi did. Practice something time and time again and – if you don’t know what you are doing – all you are really doing is perfecting an error. You have put a ceiling on how good you can become.

A golfer can go out and play eight days a week. He can practice eight days a week. And if he doesn’t know what he is doing, all he is really doing is perfecting his errors – eight days a week.

I have studied the Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic languages and quite frankly, people think I am a heck of a linguist. Actually I am a lot slower learner than most of the people with whom I started my language classes. But there is one marked difference: I finished. They didn’t.

In Japanese it might take 200 hours. Russian 300 hours. Mandarin, 400 hours. But eventually that breakthrough occurs.

It’s kind of like a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps 100 times without a dent in it. And yet on the 101st blow the rock splits in two. It was not that blow that did it, but what followed all that had gone before. If you’re not willing to practice – and practice until you get it right – you will never make the 100 blows that make the breakthrough on the 101st.

A perfect example of this was when my son, David, and I were taking Japanese lessons from the Berlitz language school in preparation for our four-week stay in Japan. At the time, he was an undergraduate student at Stanford University and right at the peak of his learning curve. I was somewhat over the hill and would not be considered a fast learner. However, it made no difference whatsoever because of my perseverance. After two weeks into the class, David was on page 75 of the text, and I was on page 30. By the end of the course, he had learned approximately 35 percent more than I had because of his speed and young brain. To overcome this, I had to spend an extra three weeks of studying to catch up with him. In the end, we both left with the same Japanese vocabulary. I just had to pay a higher price.

Read the rest of Harvey’s article »


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distributed practice, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC