Four Rules for Learning Skills

1.  Practice Only One Behavior at a Time

            While it is tempting to apply as many new methods or skills to your leadership approach, usually a person can only focus on one new behavior at a time.    "Work on one thing at a time, and get it right"  Tom Landry,  former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.   Start by picking just one behavior to practice.   Don't move on to the next [skill] until you're confident you've got the first behavior right.

2.  Try the New Behavior (Learned Skill) at Least Three Times

            A new skill or behavior will take time to learn.   Every expert was a beginner at one point.   Great leaders are not born; rather they have learned many methods for leadership and have practiced their skills over time.   Never judge whether a new behavior or learned skill is effective until you've tried it at least three times.    To try something just once is rarely an adequate approach to leadership development.

3.  Quantity Before Quality   (Perfect Practice Makes Perfect)

            When you are practicing and learning new skills, concentrate on quantity.    Use the new method or behavior a lot, rather than worrying needlessly about being perfect.   Rather than being solely concerned with quality issues, such as using the new skill smoothly or if there is a better way to use the method, work on practicing the new skill.   Use the new behavior often enough and the quality issues will begin to fall into place.

4.  Practice in "Safe" Situations  (small victories before major battles)

            Rather than trying to use new skills on the most critical project or professional challenge, try the new behaviors in less critical and lower risk situations.   If you fail as a beginner (as you probably will), the price of failure is a reasonable tuition to pay.   As your skill level(s) improve, that new tool can be used for larger and more critical situations.  Always try out new behaviors in safe situations until they feel comfortable.

Resource:  Neil Rackham,  Spin Selling, pages 148-152