Home | Upcoming Events | Services | Results
Site Map | Member Login | Success Store | Contact


Latest Newsletter
Archived by date

Inspirational articles
Career satisfaction
Motivational articles
Goal setting
Sales and marketing
Humor and creativity
Technology articles

Free monthly success tips! Enter your email address!

Motivational Keynote Speaker

Comedy Shows

Public Seminars

Executive Coaching

Personal Coaching

Business Coaching

Employee motivation and retention

Management and team building

Press Room

Motivational and business resources

Book and website link directory

Contact Us


November 2003
Success Harmony Newsletter


All of us have heard the old joke about a lost out-of-towner approaching a New York street sweeper. The out-of-towner asked "how do I get to Carnegie Hall?" and the street sweeper replied, "Practice, practice, practice!" Recently, I had a conversation which reminded me of a time when I learned about the value of practice.

In my last year of law school, I had the opportunity to participate in a corporate and securities law moot competition (a pretend appeal of a fake case) in Toronto. Our team of four speakers and one researcher had less than three months to prepare for the competition, which would involve learning Ontario securities law, writing up the "appeal" materials, and preparing for a 5 minute speech arguing each side. Another 10 minutes for questions. Big deal, I thought. I figured that the tough part would be learning the law and writing up some half-intelligent materials. I didn't think too much about the two five-minute speeches. Our team leader had a very different agenda in mind, however.

Barry Slutsky had already led the University of British Columbia team to a landslide win two years in a row. Those were the only two years of the competition, so he had quite a reputation to protect. Plus, he knew that the folks at the University of Toronto were used to winning and were getting their pencils sharpened for victory. As a result, his strategy was for us to practice our speeches a total of thirteen times before the competition. Each time, he would have us stand up in front of different sets of lawyers, judges, and people from the securities industry. Each time, they were to grill us and give us feedback.

I hated the idea. I have prided myself on being a creative person. Practicing that much seemed to interfere with my idea of spontaneity. It seemed too contrived to say the same thing over and over again, that many times. Plus, I was still terrified of public speaking and the thought of being subjected to that many instances of criticism seemed helpful but very difficult. I argued with Barry about reducing the number of practice sessions. He simply smiled and told me to show up for all practices. I ended up being the one with egg on my face.

By the time we arrived in Toronto, we had heard every possible question asked and we were prepared for any possible trick from the opposing side. We were told to take out unnecessary words and we were told to rephrase. Sometimes, the suggestions were contradictory. That forced us to grow even further as we pondered which suggestions fit and which didn't. As I watched my team mates present their five-minute bits and compared them to the speeches from the other teams, it did become obvious that the thirteen practice sessions were not overkill. They were a necessity for high quality.

Pareto's 80/20 rule says that 80% of the work can be done in 20% of the time and that the remaining 20% of the work takes the remaining 80% of the time. The other teams had done the first 80% of the work. Barry forced us to rise above that level of quality and it showed. We did take the first prize title, but the level of quality I had never experienced before was the real prize. I used to think that I wasn't as smart as other kids. Now I knew that the quality was largely the result of the number of practice sessions, along with big and small adjustments based on outside feedback. At that point, I realized that practice can make a mediocre person good - and a good person great.

In the movie Shine, there is a scene in which a piano teacher talks to his protégé about performing the extremely difficult Rachmaninoff No. 3 Concerto. At one point, he states, "First, you have to memorize the notes. Keep going through them over and over, until you have them totally down. Then, when you perform, you need to be able to forget the notes. You just play." Once a something is internalized completely, we no longer need to stumble and keep the brain occupied by figuring out what to do. Then we are simply left with experiencing and sharing the beauty of the task - whether it is a speech, a musical performance, a sales presentation, sports competition, or communicating through conflict.

Remember, practice can make mediocre good, and good into great. What is your next level and in which area?

Happy practice, sunshine and smiles,



To receive this free inspirational monthly newsletter, enter your email address:

Archived Newsletters



"All things are difficult before they are easy."
Thomas Fuller

"Infinite striving to be the best is man's duty; it is its own reward.
Everything else is in God's hands."

Mohandas Ghandi

"We work to become, not to acquire."
Elbert Hubbard




NEWSLETTER: Latest Newsletter | Archived by date | Subscribe for newsletter
ARTICLES: | Inspirational articles | Career satisfaction | Motivation and change articles | Goal setting
Communication and relationship articles | Sales and marketing | Humor and creativity | Technology articles

Home | Site Map | Member Login | Upcoming Events | Success Store | Client Results
Coaching Programs | Corporate Consulting | Motivational Keynote Speaker | Corporate Comedy | Contact

© 2002 Pavla Michaela Polcarova, CPR Coaching Services, Vancouver, BC, Canada