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The 3XP Model

This chart demonstrates the cyclical manner in which continued practice fuels itself as you commit to learning, improving, and achieving proficiency in any craft, skill, or study.


Training Facilitators

Project Type


Adult Learning Theory

Concept Model


Does “Practice makes perfect"  ring a bell?

Whoever coined that phrase missed the point! It’s not a linear pursuit. It is cyclical. And it does not account for perseverance.

Practice gives us pleasure in achieving proficiency one step at a time, which in turn, propels us to finding enjoyment in the journey. It is an essential quality for success in life.

This graphic supports adult training to illustrate that proficiency can be achieved with purposeful attention to practice. Pleasure in the journey can be attained and is the springboard to pursuing higher levels of performance through continued practice.

When learners are presented with a learning objective, either via eLearning or instructor-led training in-person or virtually, this job aid can be useful to display initially, and revisit as a course proceeds, to remind learners that skill acquisition flows out of practice and prioritizing a plan.

This model is a visual reminder of the natural path of human learning and can help learners recognize where they are in certain broader aspects of their lives. It greatly helps in a training environment to ask learners to first reflect on their childhood upbringing or young adult life and pinpoint where they see that this model was at work.  This reflection exercise serves as proof that this cyclical fashion is how body, mind and soul respond to learning. See two examples below:

A man remembers that in college, he initially loathed the subject of a required class; however, he attended, listened, questioned, engaged, and over time, the more he learned (practiced through assignments), the more success he earned (he made better grades), the more interest he had (enjoyed the study), the more time he invested into the work (because he wanted to learn more).  He fell into the 3XP cycle.

A woman recalls practicing the piano when she was young.  It was a dreaded chore because she never knew quite what to do. Her father sat by her side and encouraged her over every hump. The more she practiced, the more quickly she was able to master certain progressions. She started enjoying the practice and it was evident to her teacher that she had been putting in the work at home. Together, they got into the more fun pieces. She found herself practicing on her own, and enjoying it.  She prioritized her piano practice, seeing that improvement came with every session. 

Continuous skill improvement drives enjoyment and furthers practice. This cycle takes time and I have seen this graciously manifest in my life many times. Skills can be hard to learn. Everything takes time. We are impatient people. However, this model proves that, with patience and perseverance, all things are possible. And the journey is quite predictable.

When instructors design a course, they should be mindful to attune learners to this model, so learners can be encouraged to stay the course. 


Present the learning objectives and persuade learners that they will reach proficiency, and then pleasure, in an acquired skill, but only by putting in the practice. Learners should lean into this cyclical model when they feel stuck, disengaged, or fail to see the point. Those who persevere despite obstacles or setbacks will ultimately get there, and perseverance is an accurate predictor of achievement.

The History of the Practice, Proficiency, Pleasure Cycle

For more than 15 years, I have referred to the 3P Cycle after having the privilege of learning this from the headmaster at a school. He opened every first faculty meeting of the school year with this illustration: 

3 arrows and 3 words. That was it. He talked through each phase and offered anecdotes. The cycle made complete sense to me. It is so simple, yet so profound. 


Produce a simple visual aid that defines the 3 phases of the 3XP Model of Perseverance to be included in any training module that requires prolonged skill acquisition. Include synonyms for each phase and an easy-to-remember (phrase, rhyme, or acronym) way to recall the model. 


Based on my research from Perseverance in Psychology (, I compiled the explanations and definitions for perseverance into this comprehensive definition below and used this newly acquired knowledge to give the model a title and write the process.


It is unknown if this illustration was the headmaster's own design or not; however, I have taken the liberty to define its parts and give it a name. 

The point of this illustration is perseverance, so my first title was the Model of Perseverance, but that did not have a catchy ring to it. To honor the original three P words, the title then became the 3P Model of Perseverance. As I used Microsoft Word to define these words and populate a list of synonyms, it was clear that a plethora of P words support this model. The X characterizes that the impact is multiplied. The 3XP Model of Perseverance represents the ongoing nature of a cycle.



the ability to pursue a goal or passion, to improve skills and performance through purposeful effort and practice over time; requires persistence despite complications and an ability to push through when confronted with obstacles or setbacks; to be disciplined; to delay gratification; to self-regulate and practice self-control; to prioritize sustainable future rewards over short-term pleasures in the present; an accurate predictor of achievement; an essential quality for success in life

The 3xP Model

This project challenged me to create an impactful demonstration of adult learning theory to be applied to instructional design work to be genuinely useful in training purposes.
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