Until You’re Perfect, it’s not Redundant!

While managing sales people I would occasionally hear a complaint from team members that sounded like this:

We’re going to train on the steps to the sale again? This is getting redundant!


While helping to run a six-dealership group, I would occasionally hear a complaint from members of the management team that expressed the following:

Our training this month is on how to hire and interview…again? This is getting redundant.


As a speaker and trainer who produces monthly training dvds, and gives one thousand training sessions for clients each decade I occasionally hear this complaint from a customer:

What have you got that’s new? Topics like holding people accountable, casting vision for your organization, developing your leadership skills, setting the right expectations, learning how to interview and the like is getting a bit redundant.


To fully understand how inane these laments are, try to imagine the following conversations:  

Tiger Woods to his coach: I have to hit ten buckets of balls again today? This is getting redundant!

Tom Brady to Coach Bill Bellichek: We have to practice the same old routes again today? This is getting redundant!

 Cy Young Award winner, Roy Halladay, whining to his manager, I have to practice the same five pitches again today? This is getting redundant!


When I earned my black belt in Tang Soo Do karate my seven-time world champion instructor wisely told me: “All that this belt means is that you’re now an advanced beginner.” We then proceeded to go back and work on basics for the next several weeks, starting at the foundational techniques I learned years before as a white belt before moving on to tackle second-degree black belt requirements.


Every serious professional in any endeavor knows, embraces, and applies this important performance rule: Until you’re perfect, it’s not redundant!


The reason I continue to speak, write and expand upon leadership themes like character, discipline, hiring, accountability and vision, is because so many of the leaders I know still fail miserably in these endeavors and their organizations suffer substantial consequences. And this is exactly why you must hammer certain non-negotiable topics consistently throughout your dealership. After all, it’s not the brilliance of your plan, but the consistency of right actions that creates performance breakthroughs. Here are some thoughts to help you inculcate this mindset into your culture.


1. The “It’s gotten redundant” excuse is normally whined out by lazy, arrogant, overrated employees who overestimate their ability while you underestimate what they’re costing you with their “been there, done that, I have arrived,” mentality. Tell them that once they’re perfect, they can stop practicing, but until that day they’re going to keep working at the essential disciplines you deem as non-negotiable. You’re not offering them “multiple choices,” but a condition of employment.


2. No one on your team has to do anything extraordinary to reach the next performance level, but they will need to do the ordinary things extraordinarily well, and that comes only through practice and repetition.


3. Lack of knowledge is not what is holding you or your team members back from better results. For the most part you know full well what to do but you’re still not doing it! Until you discipline yourself to close the gap between knowing and doing you’ll fail to reach your fullest potential.


4. Consistency of execution is what separates the good from the great. Anyone can be brilliant in the basics occasionally. That’s not special or worthy of acclaim. To be the best you must consistently do more of what you know to do and do so even when you don’t feel like it; on the bad days, when it’s not easy, cheap, popular or convenient.  


5. If you are the leader, and you accept “this is getting redundant” excuses from your sniveling team members, then you are the problem.


6. The level of your practice determines your level of play. If your performance isn’t what is should be, it indicts and convicts your practice.


7. Stop letting “good enough” get in the way of becoming great. Some of your team members have reached a level that they—and you—consider as “good enough.” This plateau has removed any pressure, urgency or incentive from continuing to stretch, learn, and train in order to become great.


Here are three of my favorite quotes on preparation and paying the price for success. You may find it useful to post them in your conference room and point to them when the perennial pretenders on your team complain about your efforts to improve them:

Successful people have made the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do. Successful people don’t like to do these things either. But they subordinate their dislike to the strength of their purpose.  The strength of their purpose propels the successful to their dreams, forcing them to do the things they don’t really want to do so they can obtain the things they deeply want to achieve. E. M. Gray

You can put together a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, you’re down to your reflexes. That’s when your practice shows. And if you cheated on your practice in the dark of the morning, you’ll be found out under the bright light of the competition. Joe Frazier

 A champion doesn’t become a champion in the ring; he is merely recognized in the ring. The “becoming” happens during his daily routine. Joe Louis

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Comment by Dave Anderson on March 28, 2014 at 2:02pm

Thanks J. Michael and Steve. Excellence, indeed, is a choice; so is mediocrity.

Comment by J. Michael Zak on March 26, 2014 at 2:44pm

Dave, I just finished listening to recorded sales calls after training last week and from what I heard the "redundancy" will continue!  Until people either get it right or I get them out we will continue working on the basics.  It amazes me how people refuse to get better; where is their desire to improve and rise above mediocrity.  As always thanks for the excellent post and reminder on not accepting anything less than the best.

Comment by Steve Richards on March 25, 2014 at 10:32am

Brilliant and very true. "We've already been trained on that" is an industry wide malady. Thank you Dave.

Comment by Brian T Smith on March 18, 2014 at 11:35am

Well said. i couldn't agree more. 

Comment by Marsh Buice on October 14, 2012 at 5:09pm

Dave, "it’s not the brilliance of your plan, but the consistency of right actions that creates performance breakthroughs.." a masterful thought!! Excellent post as always!

Comment by Dave Anderson on October 9, 2012 at 8:18pm

Thanks very much Sally! Keep up the great work.

Comment by Sally Whitesell on October 9, 2012 at 5:52pm

You can't see me but I am standing up and cheering!  This is such an important message.  I teach webinars each week and I often hear the same complaints yet when it comes time to role-play these super stars stumble and forget critical elements. Practice is the only way to make perfect or least get close to it!  It is also the only way to master processes.

Comment by Patty Van Dyke on October 4, 2012 at 2:31pm

As a trainer at our dealerships, I find this article spot-on!  I will use the quotes you provided in my training plans next week.  Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Pat Kirley on October 3, 2012 at 2:41am
Hi Dave
So true, the good enough mentality is not good enough. I'm in this business years and still learning. It down to the old saying Practice makes perfect.
Comment by Craig Lockerd on October 2, 2012 at 4:05pm

We spoke about this on our national company call this morning for all our trainers to read.Keep bring these great instructions to us my friend.


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