How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Today's Throwback Thursday is related to my recent post on in which I talked a lot about how we record and track our progress on our goals. This one focuses on an aspect of making progress -- practice. Which is the punchline to the riddle in the title. How do you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice. practice.


On the day he died, at 96, Pablo Casals had put in several hours of practice on his beloved cello. The quote above: “I think I’m making progress.” had been his answer a few years prior to the question of why he stills practiced every day. One of the most accomplished people ever at his craft and he still saw progress to be made. What a wonderful lesson for us all.

Well two lessons at least. There is the lesson of the importance of practice which we have talked about before but which bears repeating. In a recent Forbes article “9 Public-Speaking Lessons From The World’s Greatest TED Talks,” one of the tips is to practice relentlessly.

Practice relentlessly. Harvard brain researcher Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor had this “stroke of insight” that has been viewed 15 million times on Dr. Jill rehearsed her presentation 200 times before she delivered it live. Practice relentlessly and internalize your content so that you can deliver the presentation as comfortably as having a conversation with a close friend.

Another is on lifelong learning and the never ending journey. Learning is about preparing for the future. Preparation in terms of planning and also practice are too often short-changed in the equation. I like the “math” that Scott Berkun included in Confessions of a Public Speaker:

Put another way, when 100 people are listening to you for an hours, that’s 100 hours of people’s time devoted to what you have to say. If you can’t spend 5 or 10 hours preparing for them, thinking about them, and refining your points to best suit their needs, what does that say about your respect for your audience’s time? It says that your 5 hours are more important than 100 of theirs, which requires an ego larger than the entire solar system. And there is no doubt this disrespect will be obvious once you are on the stage.