When I was a teenager, I was a voracious guitar player. After school, I came home and practiced guitar. I have no memories of doing my home work, but I do remember plugging in and practicing. At one point, I realized I was playing, on average, about six hours a day.
Every Wednesday, I went to a guitar lesson with a private instructor. (I was fortunate to have parents who could afford that luxury.) Once a week, I went to band practice. Twice a week, I was in the basement studio my bandmates and I made to record basic demos. And every six weeks or so, we would play a show to a live audience at some dirty bar somewhere.
Each show was about forty minutes or so, which was (in hindsight) a generous allotment for a high school rock band.
Assuming my estimate of six hours a day was accurate (and I think it was pretty close), I would practice 252 hours for every forty-five minute show.
Here’s what I learned from all that practicing: The act of creation is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. It’s the slow and steady toil of practice.
It’s much easier to write a song, or perform at a concert, if practicing your instrument is a daily habit.
I think we need to have the same attitude with our businesses. If we want them to be successful, we have to practice. I don’t mean that you need to publish something every day on your blog, or that you have to quit your day job and devote your days to your artisanal footwear company. (I didn’t drop out of high school, in case you were wondering.)
But you do need to practice your craft, whatever it is. If you’re a preacher, you need to witness. If you’re a writer, you need to write. If you’re a musician, you need to practice your scales.
It isn’t for the sake of perfection. I want to discourage you from expecting perfection of yourself. Nobody ever attends a perfect concert, and one of the football teams in a game has to lose.
But the team that practices is more likely to win in the long run, and more likely to learn from their mistakes.