Here’s why practice makes progress — not perfection

by Romy Alexandra

We all know the expression “practice makes perfect,” but at Scaling Intimacy, we’ve come to realize “practice makes progress.” That’s why we made one of our key and recurring learning principles progress over perfection.

🤔 Why?

As psychologist Dr. Susan David says, “Perfection is one-dimensional, unrealistic, and boring. It can also hinder your creativity and growth by promoting a rigid expectation for an outcome – there’s no room for risk when the stakes are impossibly high…Allow yourself to revel in the mess of exploration and learning.”

We know it takes practice to progress in anything.

👎 We can’t expect anyone to learn something and apply it perfectly on the first try 🙅‍♂️

👍 Instead, as experience designers, we can support participants to take an empowering growth mindset to appreciate each small step forward in the learning journey, honoring their progress instead of only focusing on outcomes. 🌱

👉 And the secret to do exactly that:

Create learning spaces that prioritize opportunities for practice, application, and experiential learning.

This will ultimately yield the best outcomes for all. 

We have seen firsthand through the intentional design of our own courses, how creating more ample time for practice and active experimentation during a live session can support learners to embody the mantra of “progress over perfection.” 

In Facilitation Finesse, for example, here’s how we’ve set up the course to maximize experiential learning and practical application: 

📖 Content and Information: 

📖 Content and information is shared in advance for participants to read on their own time and digest

👩🏻‍🏫 We kick off the live calls with a quick refresher of some of the key concepts, but dive deeper into experiences instead of the information throughout the session 

💪 The Power of Practice: 

Each session is intentionally designed to give participants a chance to practice the key concepts. For example:

💪 Practice adopting a coaching mindset and asking questions to peers

💪 Practice facilitating a connection exercise virtually and receiving immediate feedback

💪Practice dealing with difficult participants and finding a personalized approach to specific challenging scenarios as a facilitator

Through all of these sessions, practice is what makes progress. It’s what helps flex those facilitation muscles. The very act of practicing live in the sessions creates a new experience through which learners can reflect, get insights and feedback, and feel more confident and ready to apply when they are with their high-stakes “real” audiences. 💥

💡Pro Tip: if your event is mainly focused on information transfer, send a recorded video or a PDF of the core content instead! Prioritize experiences that you can only do live, during your precious time together!  

And it works! Here are what past participants have said: 

🗣️ “The training and breakout sessions addressed some of my insecurities or lack of confidence, and it helped me to focus on progress instead of perfection. I can learn from mistakes and try to have more of a growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset. I learned new techniques that I plan to use in staff meetings.”

🗣️ “The facilitation simulation activities were really helpful. I was able to create new ways of facilitating & embodying & rehearsing them in a safe space was deeply valuable.”

🗣️“This helped me to address so many pain points in my work, especially how to engage in challenging conversations with participants and how to hold ‘through me’ energy more consistently. The combination of content, witnessing examples, reflecting independently, and discussing and role-playing in breakouts was exquisite.”

When in doubt when designing learning experiences, remember:

1️⃣ Live time is for experiences (vs. information) 

2️⃣ Strive for progress over perfection

3️⃣ Practice! Practice! Practice!

May 2024 be the year for more experiential learning and practice for progress, and may we all give up striving for perfection. 


Want to practice facilitation with a cohort of inspiring peers? Join our next LIVE cohort of Facilitation Finesse. 





Romy Alexandra is a learning experience designer and experiential learning trainer on a mission to humanize learning spaces.