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What Are You Practicing?

Musicians have a saying that if you don’t practice for one day, you’ll notice. If you don’t practice for a second day, other musicians will notice. And if you don’t practice for a week, the audience will notice.

So, what are you practicing now?

My dear friend Russ Ferrara, who I first met in college and with whom I recently created a performance piece, is a trained classical musician.

Part of practicing for him, of course, has always been about maintaining his technical skills. “Running scales from the bottom to the top of the instrument’s range – or that wicked arpeggio that ties your fingers in knots,” as he told me.

“That’s most of what musicians need to practice when we are starting out,” he underscored.

“Early on,” he said, “practice, for musicians, is becoming acquainted with your instrument.”

“But, at this point, after playing professionally for nearly four decades,” he added, laughing, as he does so easily, “I’m pretty well-acquainted with this instrument.”

So now he focuses more on rhythmic challenges, or new concepts, or working on particularly difficult pieces that require enormous dexterity.

The notion of practicing is intriguing to me because I believe it is something that leaders could learn a lot about by listening to musicians.

What are you practicing?

It is not something that most leaders think – or even talk – about. We usually just do – whatever it is we’re doing.

We live more in a world of doing than practicing.

But musicians, regardless of how accomplished, always practice.

That’s interesting to think about.

guitar

What would be different if you were practicing?

Would it be communicating your vision?

Implementing your plans?

Measuring progress?

Recognizing success?

Mentoring others?

Honing your intuition?

Staying focused on what is important?

Being more flexible?

Getting more in tune – with yourself?

Connecting more – with others?

Listen. And learn from musicians.

To take your leadership skills to a whole new level, figure out what you are going to start practicing.

Today. Tomorrow. And next week.