Do We Allow For Practice In Our Professional Lives?

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One of my favorite parts of the day is homework time with my kids. I know that sounds preposterous, but it’s true. It could be that the homework is still digestible, and I still understand it. It’s a good opportunity to spend individual time with each child. It’s also great to watch their progress. One activity that we do with my Daughter every night is flashcard review. There are 100 cards, each with a word printed on them. We drill through the cards every evening. At first, this was a very challenging activity. It usually resulted in crying and wanting to give up. “I just don’t know these words”, she would complain. “That’s why you need to practice”, I would respond.

Practice. Practice is a discipline. Practice is made up of time and patience. As kids we would practice everything. We would practice spelling, handwriting, and mathematics. We would attend band practice, soccer practice, debate practice. So why is it, as adults, the concept of practice totally eludes us? Lord knows no one has perfected anything. Why, in our jobs, do we write off the ideas of patience and time?

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It could be because business moves at a zillion miles a minute. In fact, the concepts of thought leadership and innovation have taught us that we should be ahead of the speed of business. When we hire, we look for candidates who will hit the ground running, with minimal ramp up time. In marketing we’ve embraced the practice of testing concepts, but that’s typically experimental with decisions made in real time. In agile development we take a product to the stage where it’s decent enough for release, and make updates and improvements in future sprints. We need to consider expanding the ideas of disciplined and invested research & development into our own professional growth.

I’m not talking about creating a culture that embraces failure. A lot has been written about that, and it’s very true. I’m talking about dedicated time, both inside and outside of the office, to practice and improve skill sets. We need to read on topics outside of our knowledge area. We should brainstorm ideas with those outside of our ecosystem. If you don’t write, practice with a blog post for your company. If you don’t like speaking in public, join an organization like Toastmasters. Volunteer to participate on a project outside of your immediate organization, but where existing skill sets can translate. We need to understand that most things will not come easy. To grow in our professional lives we need to commit to patience and time.

My Daughter has come a long way in her flashcard review. She no longer dreads the exercises and now excels. We’re now starting on the next 100 words. Her skill set continues to evolve, as should our professional skill set.

Practice won’t make us perfect, but it might make us all a little bit better.

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Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
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