Practice makes perfect?

The old saying “practice makes perfect” isn’t always right. My experiences as an aspiring musician, employee, father and business owner suggest that the alternative “practice makes permanent” is more accurate. Another similar saying is “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting to get a different result”.
There is no doubt that repetition does have a powerful impact, but if you agree with my preferred version of the saying, we do need to check whether the practice will be beneficial or possibly harmful.
When we do something that gets a great result, after a quick check that it wasn’t a fluke, it’s a good idea to record what we did and look to repeat it in the future when we are in a similar situation. Over time, this becomes established as ‘best practice’ and be shared with others.
There will also be times when something doesn’t work, when we don’t get the result we wanted and possibly even get a negative response. Again, it’s worth recording what we did and the result so we can make sure we don’t do it again.
Of course, in order to decide what to repeat or not repeat we need to have a reliable way to measure the result. If not, we will end up with subjective, anecdotal assessments, and find it hard to know whether to repeat or not.
One other area where I am a big fan of repetition is marketing communications. Once a message is chosen (and that can take a lot of hard work), we need to stick to it. The more often our audience hears us say the same thing about our brand, the more likely they are to remember it. As the brand owner, it is easy for us to get bored with our messaging and think it’s time for a change, but a good message can have a surprisingly long life. Here are some examples of advertising slogans that have been around a long time, but don’t seem to have worn out yet. I’ll bet you know the brands too:
“Have a break”
“Just do it”
“Newer knowingly undersold”
“Vorsprung durch Technik”