We didn’t have a goalkeeper. However, I had played first and second base in the previous three Little League seasons and had played catcher the second season. Therefore, I felt I could handle being our team’s goalkeeper. When no one else volunteered, I did. In our first scrimmage, I received a horrible wake-up call. My baseball skills transferred only marginally. I was a terrible goalkeeper.
I received an accurate assessment of my ability and skill as a goalkeeper because of that scrimmage. In the end, a few other kids who had goalkeeping experience stepped up and took the role that year. Knowing how bad I was, I spent a lot of time after practice and when we were doing drills learning how to be a goalkeeper. I spent the season playing defender, winning a starting spot. Something from my baseball playing did translate well: speed. That was also identified during that first scrimmage.
If you want to get better, you regularly need accurate assessment of where you are. There’s a lot of debate in the information technology (IT) space with regards to certification tests and in the educational system with respect to standardized tests. In short, these tests are helpful if used properly: to assess where a person is in regards to a particular set of skills. Assessment doesn’t just have to come from tests, however. Often times, those who are further along than you can assess you. For instance, I was getting continual feedback from the regular goalkeepers on my team. That’s how I learned what I needed to work on next in order to get all my skills over the bar.
Determine how you can accurately measure yourself in whatever it is you’re looking to improve. It may be a test. It may be an expert. Whatever it is, attempt to undergo that assessment as quickly as possible. Then use the results to build an action plan for improving yourself.