Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.

October 5, 2022 | Mirta Fagundes dos Santos

soccer player practice with ball

“Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Repeat the same mistakes over and over, and you don’t get any closer to Carnegie Hall.” Sarah Kay

When I was six years old, I started learning English.

It wasn’t long before I could understand American movies without any help from subtitles. I was so confident with my English that I would speak it to myself as I played with my dolls.

At 13 my family decided to move to New Zealand and I decided I needed to up my English game. My English was basic. “I have a dog” and “The house is big” wasn’t going to get me far. What I needed was MORE words, BIGGER words! The house, in fact, had to be “enormous”, “colossal” even!

So, I practiced. I would hear a word, and I would memorise it, and then I would use it until it was completely worn out and ingrained in my brain. My mum used to roll her eyes every time I discovered a new word because she knew she was going to be hearing it every day for weeks to come.

There was a slight glitch in my plan though.

The problem was, I had no feedback. My Croatian parents didn’t know these words, nor whether I was using them in the right way. I had no one to correct me or point me in the right direction.

And that is how I came to use the word “philandering”. I heard it once when I was 13ish. I understood it to mean “roaming” or “travelling”. So, for example, if I was out with my friends, the next day at school I would tell everyone we were “philandering” around the shopping mall all day.

Until one day my friend heard me say it and set me straight.

Moment by moment, my life flashed before my eyes… my English teacher in 8th grade, my co-worker, no wonder no one ever corrected me, it would have made for an awkward conversation!

The moral of the story is, it is not just practice that is important, but how you practice. Without feedback, you can learn something wrong, and it will be difficult to unlearn.

This is why we have teachers, coaches, mentors… their value is in the feedback they give that course corrects.  

When you play golf, your trainer can direct you to move your leg ever so slightly to achieve a wider swing. When you cook a meal, your family can tell you if you need to adjust the seasoning for next time. But when it comes to the way we think, giving feedback gets complicated, because the way we think is not outwardly visible to others. This means we can get stuck thinking in unclear and ineffective ways.

If our thinking is not clear, we struggle to make sense of the world around us, we draw incorrect conclusions, and make questionable decisions. And even then, we don’t even realise that the ‘less-than-desirable’ situation we got ourselves in is a result of our inability to process information clearly and effectively. We simply blame life, luck, or other people for our predicament.

This is what makes our Black Belt in Thinking (BBIT) training different. Among other strategies, we make thinking processes visible, and then we apply proven positive feedback loops to our training. Whether you chose to do a self-led version of the course or a cohort version of the course we provide feedback either via:

  • – exercises with sample answers provided (self-led course), or
  • – example exercises with customised, mentor feedback provided (cohort course)

This way, you can train your thinking skills and trust you are on the right path.

P.S. Even now, “philandering” is my first choice and I have to pause and think for a minute before my brain finds an appropriate replacement. I’m practicing “gallivanting” lately.