Download: In Business, Choose Speed Over Practice
What does it take to succeed in business? In fact, what does it take to succeed at anything? Is it time, is it money, or maybe the personality, or intelligence of the individual executing the task?
The truth of the matter is that, success is not determined by just one thing. Ultimately, success comes as an interplay of several factors, except that some are more significant than others.
One of the ways in which success can be defined, is through becoming the best at what you do, and logically we would think that the more time you put into perfecting your craft, the higher are your chances of success.
Think about it, if you are learning to play a musical instrument, say a piano, then, the more hours you put into practicing, the better you will become, and hence the greater your chances of becoming the best at piano.
The same analogy could be applied to business. There is an interesting theory, by Malcolm Gladwell, in the book titled “Outliers”, that stipulates that for anyone to become world-class in any field, they have to put in 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice”. Deliberate practice being practice aimed at pushing your skills as far as possible through consistent practice.
10,000 hours to pour into a single activity is a lot by most people’s standards, and the theory does ring true, except for one thing. Gladwell based his research on fields that have super stable structures, this, according to a Princeton Study. Gladwell’s theory holds true if you are considering areas and professions, that do not undergo numerous changes often.
For example, going back to the piano analogy, nothing much has changed over a long time, when it comes to playing the piano. It’s a similar situation with most sporting activities, which do not undergo major structural shifts over time. In contrast, most other professions undergo massive changes over relatively short periods of time.
In these fast-changing professions and in business, there is not much impact that bears on the task, if you put in extensive hours of practice. This is the case because, by the time you are done with your prescribed 10,000 hours of practice, things would have changed so much, that your acquired skills would practically be useless.
The speed and impact of change, is even more accelerated in our times, because of technology. Technological advancements allow us to do things better, faster and even smarter. Think about it, in writing this blog post, I have relied on technologies that did not exist just a mere decades ago. Not so long ago, I would only have had the choice to publish this blog post in a newspaper, or a magazine for you to read it.
Due to the impact of technology today, the rate of change is accelerated in every endeavour of our lives, and the effects can be felt in all aspects of business. You can now order a meal and have it delivered to you, all whilst lying in bed. You can call a ride and have it find you, and even more remarkable, the ride knows where you are headed and precisely how to get there, just by you giving the address of your destination.
Technology now rules everything and is a great determinant of change. You should therefore be prepared for what disruptions are afoot when putting in your 10,000 hours of deliberate practice if you are in business, because everything can change in an instant.
Does this mean that practice is not important, and you should therefore not put in the time and effort? Far from it! Very few things are cases of either or. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the blog post, there are a lot of factors at play.
My intention is not to discourage you from putting in the extra effort, but to bring to your attention, the fact that there is more to achieving success than merely extensive practice. At the same time, don’t throw deliberate practice out the window.
I particularly want to point out how relevant it is to pay attention to another critical ingredient for success in business, and that is speed. Because the business environment is constantly changing, you need to be nimble. You need to change with the times at a faster rate than the competition, in order to maintain a competitive advantage.
In as much as speed is critical, you also need to put in the time and effort of deliberate practice. Only do it faster. One rule of life is that, if you give more, you will get more. It might take a while, but you will get there and yes, you need to put in the necessary effort. Its simple, more effort gives better result. And if you can do it faster, then more power to you.
It is your ability to move with agility in all areas affecting your business, that will ultimately decide your success. You need to learn fast, adapt fast and innovate fast. You need to outlearn your competition, for it is not always the one who masters a craft, that is guaranteed to get at or stay at the top.
In this fast-paced and fast-changing world governed by technological change, you need to take the art of mastery to a new level and strive to be current. Find new and better ways to deliver what your clients need. Essentially, that’s what businesses are supposed to be all about. That is, delivering value to clients.
Adapting and learning fast, are attributes that businesses large and small, can use to their advantage. Even if your are a small business or a solopreneur, you can take on big business by leveraging speed in the market place.
You may be new at business and facing competitors that have been there for decades, but if you can commit to practising at a faster rate, you can outperform the well established competition. The important thing to remember, is to avoid becoming complacent. In the end, it is speed and agility, more than time you have been in business, that will give you the extra edge.
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