“An amateur practices something until he gets it right. A professional practices until he can’t get it wrong.” ~Unknown
This lesson really hit home with me yesterday in my Speech Writing class. We each had to give a 2-3 minute Toast for a special event where it would be appropriate. It wasn’t graded so it gave us the opportunity to experiment and get some feedback. With nothing to lose, I decided to memorize my speech. It took me most of the night to do, and I had it pretty well down by bedtime. In the morning I rehearsed it a few times and headed off to class.
Unfortunately, performing it right once or twice in my room didn’t prepare me for all situations. I only got about half way through my toast when I realized I had messed up a couple lines, and even forgot one. Regrettably, I had to pick up my typed version and finish reading it from there, but what an epiphany this was! Upon taking my seat I immediately thought of the following story:
I once caddied for a couple of golfers who were talking about a certain professional. This professional had just successfully executed a new golf shot that day. They joked about how he practiced that shot for four months before trying it in a tournament, and that if they hit a shot well “once or twice” in practice they would use it on the course. But who do you think would succeed more often? I wonder how many times this professional hit that shot perfectly in practice before he took it public. Fifty? One hundred? Probably ten times that amount. He was not going to allow any situation to arise in which he would not be prepared.
I only memorized my speech on a superficial level. I could do it in my room alone, with no pressure at all. Perhaps I only did it perfectly two or three times. I didn’t memorize it to the point that nothing could phase me or throw me off. Consequentially, when presenting to the class, eventually my focus was diverted and my recollection was shaken. I was thrilled this happened though because I learned that in the future I must over-prepare. Getting it right once or twice will not suffice. If it doesn’t suffice for the best in the world how could it suffice for me?