Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is perfect practice really necessary?

Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach once famously said "Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect."

Old Vince had a good thought, but face it, perfect practice on a regular basis is unattainable for most people. More importantly, is perfect practice really important to the fire service?

An unknown author's reply to this was "Practice makes perfect, but nobody's perfect, so screw practice."

Frankly, this is a really bad idea - don't give up before you start, or you have no chance of success, except by sheer luck. What we do is much too important to trust only to luck.

I think my brother John has the best solution. He once told me that "Perfect is the enemy of Good Enough"

A little background on this...John is a cardiac anesthesiologist. He has been keeping patients alive during open heart surgery for over three decades. His explanation is that if you try to be perfect in the details of everything you do, you tend to get distracted by details. That often leads to missing an important part of the overall picture. When you're working on a critical process, if you achieve a workable solution to 100% of the problem, you're going to be successful almost all of the time. If you achieve perfection on 90% of the problem, the 10% you don't get to may kill a patient, or a firefighter.

Let's practice until we're good enough on everything we do, and perfect on the few things where it's really important...keeping our patients, our customers, and ourselves alive and in the best possible shape.
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