Practice Creates Proficiency

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In my last two blogs, I have written about how long it takes to become an expert at something.  According to Wharton Professor Adam Grant it takes 10,000 hours.  Years in fact.  I have also noted that this meshes with my experience as a commercial insurance specialist.  But, as I have also pointed out, proficiency until mastery comes is what allows us to make a living, be successful and serve our clients well.

Proficiency, though, requires practice.

Actually so does mastery.  It’s interesting I think that lawyers work in a “law practice” and doctors, no matter their experience, “practice medicine”.  They also continue to train in their profession.  As I write this I am awaiting my instructor for a day of “recurrent” training in my airplane.  Pilots too must train and practice to maintain and increase proficiency.

While I wait, I’m a bit nervous.  Am I as proficient as I hope I am?  While not a test, I know the day will reveal any weaknesses I have.  On the other hand I am looking forward to the experience because I know I will learn some new skill, hone my ability in other areas, and be better when I leave than when I started.  This is what I think a professional in anything does. Practice to proficiency.  Work on making continual progress on developing skills and hope to eventually to demonstrate the mastery of the expert.  At my training, I know we’ll also review accidents.  All of the accidents we review will be pilot failures where practice and proficiency were ignored.  Even by experts.

Those who want to become successful insurance agents and agency owners don’t need to wait to become experts.  But they must practice to gain and maintain their proficiency just as other professionals due. Unfortunately, I frequently see agents who just “wing it” and hope for the best.  Effective practice requires a plan, a briefing of what is to be done and a post practice review and evaluation.  This is what pilots do before every flight and what other professionals due each time before “practicing” their craft.  When they become “expert” they may forgo the checkList in favor of a flow but never the planning, practice Itself or the review.

How about you and your agency?  Are you already an expert or working your way to proficiency? Regardless of your development I encourage you to continue your practice!

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