The popular author James Clear wrote an insightful post about the difference between learning and practice, and how they both impact performance. We both agree that learning is important, but Clear brings up a fascinating point about how humans think:
“It can be easy to assume that the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future is caused by a lack of knowledge. This is why we buy courses on how to start a business or how to lose weight fast or how to learn a new language in three months. We assume that if we knew about a better strategy, then we would get better results. We believe that a new result requires new knowledge.” – James Clear
As the information age has progressed, our habits have turned towards consumption and passive learning—knowledge acquisition—as opposed to getting out there and doing things.
Clear goes on to argue that learning becomes a crutch, an excuse for inaction. He notes that practice is a form of learning, but learning isn’t a form of practice.
“In many cases, learning is actually a way to avoid taking action on the goals and interests that we say are important to us.”
At Lessonly, we hold a similar ideal, as shown in our Learn, Practice, Perform model. Teams cannot get to spectacular performance without learning and practicing. We’ve spent years helping teams get the Learn portion down—to provide the information their employees need, in a conveniently accessible and easily consumable manner. But practice, especially for the customer-facing teams we serve, is underutilized; when it should be a non-negotiable.
Why is practice so vital when training employees? Let’s bring it back to James Clear.
“Is passive learning useless? Of course not. In many cases, learning for the sake of learning can be a beautiful thing… That said, the main point of this article is that learning by itself does not lead to progress. We often hide behind information and use learning as an excuse to delay the more difficult and more important choice of actually doing something.”
Tough, honest words. Learning is important, but must be paired with practice that solidifies the knowledge gained. Practice creates repeatable habits, keeps team members accountable, and provides a way to measure tangible improvement.
Salespeople should rehearse their pitches, objection handling, price negotiations, and product demos. Support reps should practice answering common questions, walking a customer through a product, and dealing with difficult or angry users.
There will always be a place for learning. Access to essential knowledge leads to more closed deals and better customer interactions. But for skills that need to be cultivated and honed over time, practice is irreplaceable.
We know that practice is essential. So beginning with our upcoming feature, Video Response, we’re on a mission to make practice an integral part of your team’s training experience. Learn more about Video Response, and other exciting features coming to Lessonly, by taking a tour today.