If you could be world-class at something, what would it be?
Maybe your goal is to become an exceptional worship leader, a sought-after speaker, or the kind of leader that gets called for consulting.
Perhaps you want to be a writer, podcaster, or thought leader.
For me, it’s preaching. I want to be an exceptional communicator.
But, back when I was a kid, it was basketball.
I wanted to be a highlight-reel point guard.
My favorite player was Isaiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons, who back in the late 80s and early 90s were known as the “Bad Boys.”
If you remember those days and weren’t from Michigan, you probably hated that team.
Or, perhaps you saw their antics in The Last Dance, the Netflix documentary on the Chicago Bulls.
Anyway, I wanted to be like Isaiah Thomas, so I mimicked how he played on the court.
To this day, I remember his exact routine for free throws, how he spun and then dribbled the ball, wiped each eyebrow with his forearm, and then shot the ball.
I wanted to be exactly like Isaiah Thomas, and I could imitate his movements and mannerisms on the court.
However, I never made it to the NBA. I didn’t even play in college…or high school.
The truth is, the highlight of my career on the hardwood was the 7th grade B team.
Process, Not Product
The answer is very important to the question I began with. What do you want to be really good at?
I made a mistake in my imitation of Isaiah Thomas that many of us make in our attempt to get good at something.
We imitate the product instead of the process.
I was attempting to imitate his performance when I should have been trying to imitate his workout regimen.
I was trying to imitate game day rather than practice day.
If you want to be a dynamic preacher, don’t imitate what other preachers like Andy Stanley do on Sunday mornings; imitate what they do on Tuesday mornings and Wednesday mornings.
Imitate the process, not the product.
If you want to be an engaging worship leader, don’t imitate how other worship leaders do things while on the stage; imitate what they do off the stage in preparation for leading worship.
If you want to be an exceptional thought leader, don’t attempt to tweet like Simon Sinek; read the kinds of books Simon Sinek reads.
If you want to be an influential writer, don’t copy the tone of your favorite author; get up early and write 1,000 words a day, whether you feel like it or not.
You get the idea.
By imitating the process and not the product, you’ll be on your way toward developing the skills to excel at whatever it is you strive to be excellent at.
So, what do you want to be good at?
Whose process and practice can you imitate?