Practice the Practice !!

Last year in November, my wife and I joined a gym. We wanted to get healthy, and we wanted to get ahead of the traditional rush of folks who make their annual New Year’s resolution. This isn’t a major accomplishment for most, but since we’re both over the half century mark, we needed to make a change.

We chose to join the Mason Community Center for several reasons. First of all, it’s far enough away that you need to drive to get there. That’s good because the 15 minute drive makes you be intentional in using the membership. Secondly, the facility is phenomenal !! It has treadmills, ellipticals, weights, an indoor track, a indoor swimming pool and several basketball courts. The center is a magnet and it’s always full of people.

I loved all of the potential activities, but I was especially attracted by the basketball courts. You see, I’ve been playing basketball for over 40 years !! In fact, I played on organized teams for eight years in schools and was even recruited to play at the collegiate level (small colleges, but still !!) I chose to pursue my education at a larger university so I changed over to playing on intramural teams. Once I graduated and settled into my home/job, I kept playing on community teams. As I aged, my passion for playing competitively waned because of having great kids of my own and other items that took my time and attention. I “played” outside my house every once in awhile, but not like I used to.

Seeing the courts at the community center brought back the urge to play basketball again. I even asked for a new basketball from my wife for my birthday in January. I got one !! Since I had been so proficient and successful in the past, I couldn’t wait to get out on the court and shoot around. I decided to combine my workout and make it half treadmill/elliptical and half basketball.

I was so eager to launch my first shot with my new basketball !! As I hoisted the sphere into the air, I watched as it arced toward the basket . . . and came up about a 1/2 foot short. How could that be? I was really good at basketball. It should just come back naturally, shouldn’t it? I had the proper equipment and there wasn’t anything keeping me from performing, but I was awful. I made a few shots my first time back out. A few.

What was wrong? It didn’t make sense. Sure, I hadn’t played competitively for several years, but I wasn’t trying to jump into a pick-up game. I was only taking some shots to get back into the swing of things. The one thing I was missing was – practice.

We don’t like to practice. We don’t. It’s almost like joining a gym. We know it will help us feel better and it makes sense mentally, but we aren’t willing to make the time and effort needed to get involved. It doesn’t change the fact that practicing anything makes you better. This idea of practice pertains to HR because I think we’ve lost sight of practicing our practice.

Sure, we work daily in our field, but do we continue to practice to make us better? I think we tend to get in a pattern of how we take on HR in our corner of the business universe and we stick to it. That works and it’s functional, but it’s also limiting. The “practice” of HR is ever evolving and never remains constant. If we’re not keeping up on this movement, then we’ll be just like when I picked up a basketball again. Our efforts will come up short.

Did you ever notice that the word “act” is in the middle of the word “practice”? Practicing compels you to act. You can’t just wish something into existence. You need to move and break the pull of inertia.

It’s time for all of us in HR to practice our practice. Trust me. The more you practice the better professional you’ll be personally, for your company and for the field as a whole. So, consider this your new basketball. Time to get back out on the court and start practicing !!