I just got done coaching my son’s baseball practice. It has been amazing to watch this group of 7 and 8 year olds improve over the course of the season – learning the fundamentals and now starting to make some pretty great plays.
I had a great baseball coach as a kid. I’ll never forget the feeling of having the coach show us the right way to throw, and how weird it felt at first, and then how normal it felt eventually. He said: “practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect”, and that has always stuck with me.
It is the idea in Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, that sustained, directed effort is the thing that gets people from good to great. Making little steps every day, targeted to improve the weaknesses you want to work on.
At the USV CEO summit a few weeks ago, the CEO of a very large, successful and fast growing company said something to the effect of “we have always reminded ourselves to have a big vision, but to take small steps to get there” (I am butchering the language but you get the idea.
It really struck me because it is easy to think that for companies to grow and be great and big, every improvement has to be a giant, immediate leap. That’s a hard mindset to shake, because it’s just so intuitive, and there is also so much pressure to grow and succeed.
But really, all you can do is focus on getting a little better every day. And over time, each of those improvements is part of the overall improvement, which compounds as it grows.
I think it can be hard to give yourself the space, and have the patience, to just focus on making small improvements every day. But it feels to me like this is a very healthy and productive mindset if you can find it.