What Do You Practice?

I was writing a series of draft blog posts about resource efficiency (optimizing for people) and flow efficiency (optimizing for projects). I wrote them fast, flowing the ideas from my brain to my fingers. I edit later. For me, this is the best kind of writing I do. It’s not about writing fast. It’s about writing well. I practice this.

I practice my weight training. There, the emphasis is not about speed but about how well I use my specific muscles and entire body. It’s the same with my walks every day—I want enough speed to create a bit of cardio, but it’s more important that I practice great walking (heel to toe, walking through my entire foot). Us dizzy people have a tendency to drag our heels to provide stability.

When I was a developer, I practiced different ways of coding, to see if my actions changed the design, performance or reliability. When I was a tester, I practiced different ways of testing to see if I could find problems faster.

As a project or program manager, I practiced listening. As a manager, I practiced being the best person I could be for my team. In these roles, I had to learn how to lead by serving the people and the project/program. What did I want to make transparent? What did I want to hide and why?

These are all examples of deliberate practice. I thought about what I wanted to learn or improve my skills and I practiced and reflected on my work.

We practice to gain expertise. We practice to enhance our strengths. Sometimes, we practice to avoid problems in the future (I put exercise in this category).

We optimize for different things when we practice. Sometimes, we optimize for speed, as in my writing. Sometimes, we optimize for accuracy as in weight training or something physical. Sometimes, we optimize for learning, as in my development and testing work. We learn from the reflection on that practice.

What are you practicing now? Are you optimizing for what makes the most sense in your deliberate practice?

That is the question of the week: What do you practice?

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