Practice helps understand influence

notation mistakeTo the creative process, practice is critical. I’ve long been intrigued by the notion that artists (like athletes) spend 95% percent of their time practicing to execute well in the remaining 5% of their time.

In business, it’s the opposite. There’s very little practice time in business, and we’re expected to execute all the time. There’s the occasional executive business program, leadership retreat, coaching session, or sabbatical. But those are rare, and some working professionals may never have the chance at any of those perks.

There are many ways to practice and many techniques go in to practicing for various outcomes. This post from FastCompany Design got me thinking. Maybe we should talk more concretely about practice. Take a look at more specific examples of how practice helps the artistic creative process to see what can cross pollinate the creative process at work.

In my comment to the post, I compare the technique of copying other poets to the transcription process in music. Learning music at every level involves transcribing solos and learning to play them. It’s important in order to know when you’re copying and why. When it comes time to execute, it’s a deliberate choice when you decide to use a riff, scale, or idea you’ve heard somewhere else in a different setting. Ideally this music you’ve learned from others comes from a more honest place in your own playing. It becomes an influence, not plagiarism.

There’s just so little room for this kind of work in business. Is there anything similar happening now in the working world? Could there be?