The practicing practitioner

Do you devote any time to practicing your job other than just doing it?

The practicing practitioner? Sounds redundant. To practice something can mean applying a set of techniques or being true to a philosophy. It can also simply mean to train, say in sports or in playing an instrument.

I hope you’d agree that athletes or musicians must practice. They must put in the time to learn and then to embed that learning as instantly tappable mental and muscle memory. It is hard work. And what do they practice for? Events. That meet, that game, that recital. They are practitioners in their disciplines and they must practice what they do in order to get good and stay good.

If you’re a knowledge worker, you’re a different kind of practitioner. You have no events, per se. Your job is one long event. When do you get to practice apart from the odd training course here and there that you had to plead to get to? More often than not, the answer is, “On the job.” The job is your practice field or room.

What I think this means is that you should not expect to be able do things perfectly when you’re doing something new or different. Neither should your leaders. You need time to learn. Equally, if you can find or are given the opportunity and the means to learn alongside your job, all the better. Take time to read. Take time to discuss with others. If you do, then you may be able to avoid some obvious mistakes or get better at what you already do. Short bursts are best, and this is why in-work education is so invaluable.

Are you a practicing practitioner? Do you devote any time to practicing your job other than just doing it? Do you think you might learn more or faster and stay sharp by participating in a community of equally time-starved practitioners? Can you give something back to them?

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