As the new cohort of Strictly contestants are finding, the professionals make it look easy. Whenever we see someone at the top of their game, whether in sport, music or craftsmanship they do, indeed, make it look easy.  So, how do they do that, and can we?

  1. Assume nothing:  Assumption makes an Ass out of U and Me    

Let go of any assumptions you may have, that you are not:

Replace those assumptions with ease and flow, however hard things get you will manage the situation.  Even trying and failing will increase your skill, increase the knowledge of what you need to do to improve or inspire you to take alternative action on your way to your goal.

  1. Beginners Mindset


No matter how practised you are in your field of expertise, an excellent thing you can do is to adopt a beginners mindset – sharpen your enthusiasm, hone your observation skills and take note of every aspect of the skills you are looking to develop. 


Example:  I have been involved in marketing for decades and hold a Chartered Institute of Marketing hard-won qualification to boot. I find other businesses’ marketing fascinating but had become a little jaded with my own!

So, when embarking on learning a new coaching modality recently, part of the package was many, many hours of intensive marketing training videos (yawn).  A colleague on the course pulled me up sharp and challenged me to take on the beginner’s mindset.  Suddenly I was interested, open to learning and enthusiastic about completing the work. The work is now engaging, fascinating and inspiring and I’m excited by my own marketing again.

  1. Preparation is everything

When focused on your expertise, preparation is important:

  1. Emulate the expert’s efficiency

With a beginner’s mindset, observe the performance of the experts in your field.  When you see a master at work their concentration is total and their apparently relaxed attitude comes from only using the muscles required in that operation.


“Strength is the basis for all movement, but this does not necessarily mean that the more skilled people are stronger; it simply means that they use the strength that they do have more efficiently. They achieve this by creating a closed circuit where all their effort is directed to the task. All parts of the body that are not directly involved in achieving the aim remain loose and relaxed. Amongst those less skilled you can see all this energy escaping through contorted faces, gritted teeth and tight shoulders that consume huge amounts of effort but contribute nothing to achieving the task.” Terry O’Neill, former Olympic Rowing Coach


So what does your closed circuit look like? 

I actually tested this on our Dynometer (a strength testing and training machine) and it’s true, if I tense up all my muscles, grimace and yell, my scores are worse. 


Six Steps to a Closed Circuit:

Eg. How does this work when I am delivering leadership coaching to clients

Task: Coaching

What is the aim: Moving client towards their goal.

Muscles used:  Ears, intuition, brain to access expertise and voice.

Evaluation:  Like many others I am now using zoom for client calls but where possible without the screen. The visual is distracting.

Learning:  If I am not distracted by the visual, I am even more able to connect with the client intuitively, sense emotional fluctuations and the unstated intentions beneath the words. Similarly, the client is able to concentrate better on their own thought process when not distracted by looking for visual cues from me.

Adaptation: To close the circuit more I would work without the screen, with a headset and eyes closed.


What is your closed circuit? What muscles do you use in your expertise? How could you close the circuit? Try this exercise for yourself -  ‘Task, Aim, Muscles, Evaluation, Learning, Efficient Adaptation’ process.

  1.  Practice 10,000 hours

Malcolm Gladwell intimated in The Tipping Point that expertise in any given subject requires an investment of 10,000 hours, this has been roundly refuted since but there is an undeniable impact that practice has upon talent in sport, music and any learned skill based operation. So, whatever it is you want to achieve – keep doing it, over and over again.  Evaluate, learn, adapt and improve.

Any one of these ideas will help, put them together and you will impress the best.  And, the most important thing in becoming an expert is the belief that you can.  As Henry Ford said intimated: Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you will be right. 


If you have another idea, let me know, I’d love to hear about it