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Training, Performance, and Professionalism

March 1, 2012

I’m grateful for my teachers.  One of the good things about a long life is learning many skills.  Here are some perspectives on great teachers.

“Knowing only what you can do tells you very little about what you can’t, or shouldn’t, do.”

You don’t really have a skill until you know where and how it fails.  How many training courses are designed for failure?  I’ve had good teachers, but have not always had room for failure.

 “An amateur practices a new skill until he gets it right.  A professional practices a new skill until he never gets it wrong.”

The amateur develops a skill so he can perform while he concentrates on the task.  He has reached conscious competence.  The professional masters the skill and then goes on to give a perfect performance while he ignores the task.  He is unconsciously competent.

It is the difference between a performer and an artist; the difference between a child taking his first steps and a professional dancer.

 “The extraordinary teacher drives his students beyond failure.”

An average teacher helps you practice perfectly.

A good teacher pushes you until your performance falters.

A great teacher drives you until you fail miserably, and recover.

A fantastic teacher leaves you proud of where you failed and eager to do more.

Now you know your limits, you as a performer and he as a teacher.

 “Then there are the unknown unknowns.”

Can you diagnose new failures and recover on the move?  Few of us know a task so well that we can ignore it at peak performance and recover automatically from an upset or malfunction.  That is the standard of a professional, and it has nothing to do with getting paid.


A “Thank you,” to all my teachers.

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