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Focus, Practice, Repeat

Patrick Nelson, July 5, 2016

I’m a natural competitor and nothing gets my heart racing like a “winner takes all competition.” Even if it’s a go-kart race at a client team building event. What can I say, I like to win?

A few weeks ago I found myself in the driver’s seat at a track where the team I was working with and I were in a three-race series. I was rusty on the first race, a bit better on the second race, and in the third race I was ready. When the green flag lowered, I took off and channeled all the lessons learned from my previous race into this final one. When I crossed the finish line, I realized that I had earned something significant – not bragging rights for improved times, but an important reminder that to get better at anything you have to focus on what you want to improve upon, practice that behavior, and repeat it until you’ve got it mastered. While this applies to go-kart racing, it can also apply to any skill you want to improve upon – even leadership skills.

Consider if you want to get better at delivering effective feedback to others. You can follow the simple model of Focus, Practice, and Repeat.

Focus. Identify the result that you want and learn what it will take to get you there. Perhaps you’ve been really critical of your teammates and they could benefit from hearing more positive feedback from you. Your goal could then be to make a habit of expressing appreciation to those around you more frequently.

Practice. How do you get better at anything? Practice. When you are introducing a new behavior or skill, it might first feel more like a necessary evil than an effective leadership tool, but practicing the new behavior and skill will result in a normalization and help you become better at it. While it might feel uncomfortable to deliver positive feedback intentionally, don’t back down from the pursuit. You’re building a habit.

Repeat. In order to get something to stick, you must commit to doing it consistently. As you continue to deliver effective feedback, you will find small nuances that will help you to continue to improve and make your feedback much more effective.

If you want to win, whether at racing go-karts, delivering effective feedback, or any other new skill and behavior, follow the focus, practice, and repeat model. This will not only help you see improvements in a specific area, but will also help spur further growth and development that will make you a stronger, more effective leader.

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