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Master the Skil ls

There’s a story going around the self-help talk circuit about a

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Master the Skil ls There’s a story going around the self-help talk circuit about a Vietnam War prisoner who played golf in his head in order to help maintain his sanity
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Vietnam War prisoner who played golf in his head in order to

help maintain his sanity. He’d mentally step up to each hole at

his favorite golf course and “play” an entire round. After being

released, he eventually found his way to the course, where he

promptly shot his best score ever, one under par. When his

friends acted astonished at his new-found talent, he explained,

 

 

222 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS

“Why shouldn’t I have shot under par? I never once shot over

par while I was in prison.”

This tale is routinely used to teach the power of mental prepa­

ration. Gurus can’t say enough about the power of the mental

game. While we agree that thinking is an essential part of the

process, we’d like to emphasize the greater importance of doing.

Evidence suggests that mental preparation can make some dif­

ference in execution, but thinking isn’t enough. If you really want

to improve your ability, practice. Step up to problems and give

the material a try.

Rehearse with a friend. Start by rehearsing with a friend. Ask

a colleague or coworker to partner with you. Explain that you’d

like to practice the skills you’re learning. Briefly discuss the skill

you’ll be attempting. Provide the details of a real problem you’re

facing. (Don’t include names or otherwise violate privacy

issues.) Next, ask your friend to play the role of the other person

and practice the crucial conversation.

Ask your partner to give you honest feedback. Otherwise you

could be practicing the wrong delivery. Remember, practice

doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Insist that

your practice partner hold you to a high standard. Make sure

you’re constantly improving.

Practice on the fly. You’re going to be holding crucial conver­

sations at home and at work, or you wouldn’t have bought this

book in the first place . So practice the skills you’ve been read­

ing, teaching, and rehearsing. If you have children, hardly a day

will pass that you won’t have a chance to practice.

Start immediately. If you wait until you’re perfect before you

give something a try, you could be waiting a long time. To make

it safe, pick a conversation of only medium risk. Trying out

something new is hard enough without applying it to a monu­

mental problem.

 

 

CHANGE YOUR LIFE 223

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