It used to be that professional athletes spent hours every day preparing for their big matches. Basketball players would shoot hundreds of free-throws per day. Golfers would strike and putt thousands of balls per day preparing for the big match. Baseball players would field endless ground balls and swing at hundreds of pitches per day to hone their skills. That’s all about to change.
After working with thousands of executives and sales professionals, we’ve concluded an unscientific study that proves practice is not needed to prepare for big-game moments. Nearly every salesperson or executive we interviewed concluded that they a) hate practicing or role playing; and b) don’t want to embarrass themselves practicing in front of their peers. Most feel they are better off making huge mistakes in front of customers instead of risking discomfort practicing with their peers.
Baseball Hall of Famer Rudy Kazootie, who hit the famous world-series winning homerun on a curveball in 1994, said “I don’t know why we practiced. In hindsight, I probably would have been better off squandering that once-in-a-lifetime moment by striking out in front of the world. I hated struggling with breaking balls during practice. My teammates and coaches always made fun of me.”
2014 US Open Golf Champion Martin Kaymer allegedly is set to abandon practice, too. After winning the US Open at Pinehurst, his coach reflected on why practice will no longer be part of Kaymer’s routine. Dewey Lissyn, his longtime coach said “The embarrassment of receiving advice from me and others may have led to the pinnacle of success. But, it’s just not worth the moments of being uncomfortable. If he is going to miss a short putt, why make him experience that when it doesn’t matter. Instead, it’ll have more long-term impact if he chokes when money is on the line.”
Surgeons Also On Board
Deepa Cuttha, a surgeon at Tournacut Medical Center said “We used to practice major surgeries on cadavers. We would perform the same surgery dozens of time before performing the surgery on a live patient.” Cuttha continued “Then it occurred to us…What if the first time around we actually got it right? We could have been doing that surgery on a real patient who would have been thankful for the outcome. So, we’re going to start doing surgery on real patients instead of practicing. We’ll just hope for the best. What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Sounds like sage advice from the medical community.
What Can You Learn for Your Business?
Authors and alleged experts on sales and business development have suggested for years that you are better off practicing high-pressure situations with your colleagues or coaches to be better prepared when you encounter the real situation. But, is it really worth the moments of discomfort to have huge success in real life? Probably not. If you are going to make a fool of yourself, you are probably better off not practicing the handful of common objections you’ll face. Oh, and be sure to also avoid doing research on your clients in advance, considering their situation, and how you can help. When you get there, be sure to do all of the talking, and at the last moment apply pressure to get the sale. Nonexistent research confirms that works well, too.
It’s Your Turn
What other best-practices actually turn out to be a waste of time. Perhaps sunscreen will also be a thing of the past.