FORT KNOX, Ky. (Jan. 28, 2014) -- "Don't succumb to excuses. Go back to the job of making the corrections and forming the habits that will make your goal possible." Vince Lombardi

Expertise isn't just handed to you. Commitment to a daily routine and practice separates you from every other recruiter operating in your area. Make a commitment to succeed.

Chapter 6 of Army Doctrine Reference Publication (ADRP) 6-22, Army Leadership states that compliance is only "appropriate for the short term, immediate requirements and for situations with little risk tolerance". Commitment on the other hand, generally produces longer lasting and broader effects. Paragraph 6-4 further mentions that compliance only affects a follower's behavior; commitment reaches deeper-changing attitudes, beliefs, and behavior.

In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell said, "Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good." And, that "The thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That's it. And what's more, the people at the very top don't work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder."

"The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise; 10,000 hours."

Reality check - Mastery, becoming a world-class expert, takes 10,000 hours of practice--because it takes the brain that long to assimilate everything it needs to know for achieving mastery. The rest of us (real people) don't need 10,000 hours of practice to be atop of our game. But we do need practice. And I'm willing to bet that you need more practice than you're currently committing to. Think about it; to master a set process requires 10,000 hours of practice - so how much time would it take to master a process that changes? Start practicing; it's going to take some time.

Think about all the people that society labels as masters. I'm not talking Kung Fu masters, although, we often do associate mastery to the martial arts. Because of their discipline, people such as Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, David Carradine, and Jean Claude Van Damm are often given the title of "master."

Similar are musicians and the time they spend mastering their craft. A good example is the Beatles. As kids John, Paul, George, and Ringo spent hours and hours harmonizing, experimenting with obscure chords and traveling around the United Kingdom and Germany searching for new music and genres to play. Individually and together they each were striving to become the best musicians of Europe and ultimately the world. The Beatle's music still breaks records today often hitting the charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States. The Beatles are still the best selling band in the United States. What a legacy for these artistes and masters.

RECRUITERS WANT IT NOW

I recruit. You recruit. Real recruiters are focused. We are energized by our profession, driven to provide top-notch counsel and service to our applicants, and we are always moving, learning, developing expertise, and asking questions. We are on the move.

We - Army recruiters - are not a patient people. We want information, relevant information now, right now; not tomorrow or the next day. We want it quickly and magically. We'd prefer to put the iPod - loaded with critical training and wisdom - under the pillow and awaken with the essential content embedded in our brains. Osmosis would be such a low-impact, low-energy, easy way to master new recruiting skills…

Snap out of it. That's not how it works, and you know it. The only way to increase essential skills and impact our recruiting productivity is to practice. Yes, I mean hands-on, upright, out-loud practice. I know what you're thinking, "No. Don't want to do it; don't have time to do it."

COMMIT TO MASTERY

We have all reached mastery of something within our lifetime. For example, children practice all the time without fear. Remember learning to ride a bike? You watched other kids or even assisted your own. You may have started with a tricycle - very safe - then got your two-wheeler with training wheels - safe - and then dropped the training wheels for a solo free ride - not so safe. You fell, skinned your knees and got back on. You fell off again and got back on. You were committed to learning how to ride that bike. Your confidence improved, and you rode downhill and over and around bumps and obstacles, and not always with you feet on the pedals. You rode with only one hand on the handlebars and then without any. You got good, really good. But it didn't happen overnight. Commit and gain a sense of control.

Now that you are committed and have mastered a few things you can't forget to share what you have learned. The tacit knowledge you possess due to your diligence needs to be transformed to explicit knowledge. In other words, our knowledge needs to be articulated, codified, and stored in certain media.

The quickest method is to create a continuity book which includes acceptable short cuts, memory aids, and other pertinent information to complete a task or assist in the execution of a mission. Once documented, you are able to share this product with others allowing them to add to it and continue the process. The ultimate goal is to reduce the time it takes to master a particular subject.

THE PROOF IS IN THE PRACTICE

But we resist practice, even with proof right in front of us. Why? I believe that recruiters resist practice because adults and contributing employees don't get paid to practice. You get paid to recruit. You believe that you are already a master and that practice time is on your dime. And who has extra time just floating around? Phil Tabor G-3 Training, will tell you "You don't practice to get it right; you practice to never get it wrong."

We have all forgotten to practice something for some reason or another and thought our teachers or coaches wouldn't notice. They always noticed. You never got away without practicing. As adults, we can't get away without practicing either. Believe it; your applicants and prospects notice, and so do your leaders. Just forget to practice the push-up for a few months and see how it goes.

PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT

Recruiting teams in the top 10 percent operate differently. They determine the critical, deal-making skills they need for success, and they deep dive into those skills. These super achievers narrow their focus and relentlessly learn and apply new skills by committing to daily practice. Yes, daily practice.

Use the example of the gym: If you just walk by, look at people in the window, and watch them working out, not much changes for you, but lots changes for them. Daily workouts build muscles, improve physical well being, and strengthen the most critical muscle in our bodies - the heart.

Where is the heart of your recruiting profession? Commitment to a daily routine and practice separates you from every other recruiter out there. Many anecdotes and quotes exist about practice. I grew up hearing "Practice makes perfect." I don't believe in perfection. Perfection is boring. I believe in striving to be the best.

So much information bombards us today, and we struggle to quickly locate relevant data to boost our knowledge and get the latest and greatest information. We find information fast, but we frequently lack the discipline to apply what we learn effectively. Why? We neglect practice. Too often recruiters present generalities versus knowing their products; for example - how much money does a private get paid in the Army while attending basic training? Go ahead ask each recruiter in your center and get a different answer from each. Why?

Try this: Take out a piece of paper and a pencil and then think for a minute and imagine all the different topics you believe you have mastered and write them down. Only you know whether or not you have mastered something in life. What is the old adage - knowledge of many, mastery of none.

If you have not taken the opportunity to take a second look at ADRP 6-22, please do so. ADRP 6-22 is full of topics that each professional Soldier needs to consider, such as; self regulation, expanding your knowledge, capitalizing on technology and much, much more.

To quote Phil Tabor once again "You will find very few, if any, truly natural recruiters. Those who are viewed as natural or successful is because of practice, practice, practice."

Page last updated Tue January 28th, 2014 at 00:00