When Are You Willing to Practice in Public?

I was on vacation last week, in Eilat Israel, a tourist destination. Because it’s a tourist town, you can see a lot of street art.

On my walk this past Saturday (Shabbat) morning, I heard loud music with a great drumbeat. My first reaction was, “How loud! On Shabbat!” Then, I turned the corner and smiled. I saw this guy in the movie, performing.

He didn’t stop moving the entire time. (He performed for at least 30 minutes.) And, I no longer resented the music, because he put on a good show.

He wasn’t perfect. I think he missed as many of the tricks as he made. However, he didn’t stop smiling. He didn’t stop moving. He persisted.

We all practice in public.

  • As parents, we practice helping our children learn to be gracious humans.
  • As people in committed relationships, we practice the give-and-take that makes us willing to continue those relationships.
  • As workers, we practice doing our jobs.

As a writer, I practice all the time. Every time I hit publish on this blog, I practice in public.

What makes me willing to practice in public? For me, it’s about feedback, public and private. For the public feedback:

  • Sometimes, no one appears to like my post. Oh well. That’s life.
  • Some people resonate with my post and they offer feedback about how the post made them feel.

I also gain private feedback. As I write, I learn what the heck I was thinking. I can use my grammar checkers to see how well I’m writing. (At the end, not while I write.)

I also get the feedback of knowing I finished something.

We have to be willing to be vulnerable to practice in public. People might not like our work. But, if we focus on improving, if we keep showing up to practice in public, we often attract people who do like our work.

Here’s the secret about writing and speaking in public—any kind of public practice: People want you to succeed.

Even if they disagree with you, they want to know what you have to say. In the case of the performer, I wanted him to succeed even though there was a stiff breeze.

And, because he smiled the entire time, I wasn’t worried about his performance. Sure, he might have to run to catch a hat or something else that he threw up in the air. He might have to manage how the bowls went together so he could be safe to balance on them.

I didn’t care if he “succeeded” in his tricks. He succeeded in his performance because he persevered—smiling and dancing the entire time.

That’s why I practice in public. That’s why I encourage you to do so, too.

The more we practice, the more feedback we gain. Not just from other people, but from ourselves. We learn how to do this thing, again and again.

We build our self-esteem. We learn our craft. Our practice starts to turn into perfection. Maybe not all the time, but sometimes.

The question this week: When are you willing to practice in public?

2 thoughts on “When Are You Willing to Practice in Public?

  1. karlosmid

    Hi Johanna, great post!

    In my free time, I used to do stand up comedy. I watched a lecture video about stand up basics, but without practicing on open mic nights in front of live audience, I wound not improve in stand up comedy.
    The best takeaway is when you realize on stage, in real time moment, that advices from the lecture really work. And yes, there were failures before I realize how to connect with the audience :)

    The same is with software testing. After I successfully finished BBST AST courses, without practicing those topics on real testing problems, I would not advance in software testing craft.

    Regards, Karlo.

    https://blog.tentamen.eu

    1. Johanna Post author

      Karlo, thanks! Yes, and I bet that as you learned to connect, you realized the audience wants you to succeed. (Well, they do for standup.)

      And, the testing practice with real problems? Yes! We all want to succeed more than we want to fail/learn early. And we need to practice.

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