The downside of ‘Practice makes you perfect’

practice makes you not badI’m sure you have heard the phrase “practice makes perfect” many times in your life. You may have even used it on your children or other people you know.

Indeed if you want to get as near as possible to perfect in something, practice is the key. Usually at least 10,000 hours of it.

But before practice makes perfect is … practice makes you great.

Before that … practice makes you very good.

Before that … practice makes you good.

Before that … practice makes you not bad.

Not bad, it turns out, is significantly better than almost everyone else. And ‘not bad’ takes a whole lot less practice than what is needed to be perfect. More importantly ‘not bad’ can often be enough to get you through.

Sometimes our desire to be perfect is the very thing that stops us starting in the first place.

‘Practice makes you not bad’ still takes practice and a decision to start. It’s just the goal is different and the pressure is off.

It may be guitar. Or a language. Or sport. Or maths. Or computers. Or even work. Being not bad takes far less than we expect.

The challenge for me is to stop trying to be a perfectionist all the time, and to be happy with not bad. Because when I’m happy with not bad, it actually makes practice easier and more enjoyable.

Maybe that’s the case with you as well.

And for your kids.


2 thoughts on “The downside of ‘Practice makes you perfect’

  1. Hi andrew. I have heard that we should stop having expectations of other people, and turn it around to expect from ourselves. What are your thoughts about this.

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    1. Thanks so much for your question. I have a couple of brief thoughts.

      I’ve never really thought through the idea of stopping having expectations of others, however I do really believe that having high expectations of ourselves is really important.

      I also know that in reality we have expectations of others all the time, and I remember learning about unspoken expectations a few years ago. These are basically expectations we have of people, but never tell them about. When they dont live up to them we get frustrated, but its not their fault, its ours for not speaking about the expectation before hand.

      I hope this helps. Here is a link to a post I wrote back in 2012 https://andrewnicol.net/2012/02/03/unspoken-expectations/

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