You know the saying "Practice makes perfect". Here's similar advice from 37signal's Jason Fried: You play like you practise. If you want to perform strongly in any area (from sports to business), you can't slack off in your practice, because what you do most of the time is what you get used to.
Picture: Michael Coghlin
It's a simple, perhaps obvious concept, but Fried gives a great example of how the little things you do during practice can really make a difference later. Taking a class that incorporated fake handguns, the instructor repeatedly told the class to drop the gun on the ground instead of handing it over to their partners when it was time to switch turns.
That sounded weird. You’re right next to the person, why would you drop the gun so they had to pick it up?
Without having to ask why, the instructor explained himself: “If you practice handing the gun over to your partner now, you might end up handing the gun over to an actual assailant later. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen.” Then he showed us surveillance camera footage of someone doing it in robbery.
It sounded ridiculous. Why would I ever give my gun to someone who’s attacking me? The answer is because if I practiced doing that earlier, I might do it later.
When humans are in stressful situations, we tend to fall back on our practice. If I practiced handing my gun over, I might mindlessly fall back on that when it mattered most.
So when you're gearing up for a big presentation, practising for a test, or preparing for anything else, remember to be mindful of all the little things you're incorporating into your practice and don't cut corners.
You play like you practice [37signals]