On Leadership and the Art of Practice

Paralympics Games

What is the question we always ask about those that are successful in what they do?

We want to know what they are like:

Their talents, skills, business acumen, personality and if their talents are genetic gifts?

We often assume that it is the genetic special skills that enabled them to reach the top.

However, is it true that just possessing a special skill enables one to reach the top or become an expert at what they do?

Olympic Mindset

Is that what the recently concluded Olympics proved ? Is that what the Paralympics teaches us?

XIV Paralympic Games

The 2012 Paralympics are taking place between August 29 – September 9 2012 and the United States has its own “Blade Runners” in sprinter Blake Leeper, a double amputee who could challenge Pistorius over 100 meters, and 22-year-old Jarryd Wallace, from Georgia.

The latter had his right leg amputated two years ago because of a medical condition but has swiftly transitioned from a talented able-bodied runner to a Paralympic contender.

We may be born with some talents and skills but finding and performing with excellence in whatever we do requires passion, persistence, clarity, commitment and much more.

Q: What is the key ingredient to excel at what we do or seek to do or have interest in?


P – R – A – C – T – I – C – E

prac·tice  [ práktiss ] repeat something to get better: to do something repeatedly in order to improve performance in a sport, art, or hobby

Let’s break it down:

P – Passion with a purpose

If you want to become The World’s Best Gymnast, that becomes your compelling desire for achieving something purposeful.  Your practice thus has to connect to the skills you want to build to become a fantastic gymnast.

R – Reach and repeat

Make step by step progress by practicing repeatedly and improve on yourself from the last time.  It is a continuous process of achievement, repetition and consistently moving ahead.  Let’s take an example where you have to make a presentation to a the senior board members within your organization.  This is the first time you will be addressing a panel of senior management. You would need to start off by preparing the script, research ahead of the script, rehearse at home in front of a mirror or video yourself, make improvements and thereafter practice in front of small groups.

A – Assurance 

Practicing repeatedly is of no use if you don’t feel engaged and get the assurance that you are moving closer to your goal or vision.  To feel confident you need to believe and trust in yourself. Feedback from your colleagues, friends, peer group or social circle is essential to improvise.

C – Clarity

Some of the questions you need to ask yourself is:

  • What do I care about?
  • How do I get to where I want to be ?
  • What is the time limit I set myself ?
  • What are my strategies and options to get there?
  • How can I make it better ?
  • Have I considered all options?
  • Do I need the assistance of a Coach to get there?
  • What’s the immediate next step?

T – Time 

How much time are you going to spend daily to achieve your final vision ?

I – Initiative 

If you want to become the World’s best gymnast, then you need to begin and follow through energetically with a plan, task and determination. Four years ago a fresh-faced 15-year-old unknown athlete slipped into Beijing unnoticed but returned from the Paralympics as one of the darlings of New Zealand sport with three golds and a silver. Sophie Pascoe a moving target at London’s Paralympics.

C – Commitment 

Underlying all of the above, no matter what your vision is, is your relentless dedication to get to where you want to be. Are you willing to focus, think and bind yourself in achieving what you set out to do so.

E – Excel 

To be the best and nothing less in what you seek to do. A perfect example being an athlete surpassed by none.

So what has PRACTICE got to do with leadership. No matter what you do and however small the act, you can be a leader in your action and your thoughts and in putting that to PRACTICE.

What do you want to achieve? Are you committed to it? Do you have a clear vision? Do your actions empower your words? Are you willing to PRACTICE?


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Lalita Raman

Lalita Raman is CEO of Transitions Intl Ltd
She serves her clients as Executive Coach, Business Coach & Consultant
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter |  Web | Blog

Image Sources: 1.nieuwsbladcdn.be, en.wikipedia.org


One response to “On Leadership and the Art of Practice

  1. This is an excellent take on success, Lalita. Many people tend to rest on talent alone and then get frustrated with their dreams don’t pan out.. I know that for me, “Reach and Repeat”, can be a tough step without a coach or someone close to me helping me do it. I tend to think too small at times. We need to repeatedly stretch ourselves in order to grow into what we want to become. Thanks for the post!


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