The first year that I played baseball for my high school team, I remember that the coached always preached that “prefect practice makes perfect,” but how can you be perfect right off the bat? That is the trick here my friends, unless you get very lucky, odds are that you won’t be perfect at something right away. So let’s take a look here and see if we can figure out a way that works for you!
First Things First
When it comes to learning and practicing a new skill you have to understand that there will be a lot of work and time involved. All too often in today’s world of instant gratification people think that they can waltz right into a new skill, but that is not the case. You need to commit yourself to learning and practicing in order to grow.
So you realize by now what this means? That’s right, you have to deal with change! Something that makes us all a little uncomfortable, but that is how change works. It gets us outside of our comfort zone and into new unexplored areas of life. However, as you practice more, that “change” can become part of your comfortable area.
So now that I have you rattled with all of these things that you are going to deal with, are you ready to get to work? Remember, if you want to grow and live a full life, these are all things that you will have to learn how to deal with. Now let’s take a look at how this all works together.
Aristotle Said It Well
The great Greek Philosopher Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” What he is getting at here is that if we want to become better at something to the point that we are excellent or perfect about it, that we have to incorporate it into our lives as a habit.
A simple example of this from my life would be my math skills. When I was in school and actively used and practiced math all of the time I was great at it. I was often the undefeated champion of math games in my younger years and carried that through to high school before I slowly began to back away from it all.
Now a day I am approaching my 40th birthday and while I use some math for work and play, it is not much. You could say that I am not really practicing and using it anymore, so can you guess how good my skills are now? No longer can I fire out the answer in the blink of an eye, I have to sit hard and think about it.
As you can see without math being a habit in my life, my ability to use it effectively has grown rusty at best and if I really need to use it I need to break out the oil! While the skill has not been totally lost to me, my overall effectiveness with it has dropped considerably.
Where to Start?
Well my friend, I have three words to get you started – trial and error. That’s right, before we can get good at doing anything we have to start at the beginning and that is attempting to do whatever it is and then learning from our mistakes. The key to remember here is that you will make mistakes and it will take time and effort to learn from and reduce them.
The next thing to understand is that before you ever have any feelings of true confidence in anything that you will have to take actions on it first. This is explained beautifully in the book, The Confidence Gap, where the author goes on to explain how and why the actions of confidence will always precede the feelings of it
Now you can understand a little better that when it comes to getting started, that you first and foremost just have to start doing whatever it is that you want to do. From there you will sometimes succeed and sometimes fail, but both are just the building blocks that you need to learn from to create a solid foundation for the skill.
Practice Makes Perfect
With all of the above in mind, it is now time to practice, practice, practice!!! Each time that you work on the skill that you are developing you are adding little pieces to the puzzle. The what did and what didn’t work dive down into your mind as experience, and the more of it you have the more complete your picture becomes.
With that clarity comes the opportunity to really refine the skill. Each time that you practice you are bettering your odds of doing said skill correctly. The more that you practice and can do the skill correctly, the better the odds are of being able to do it when needed. With a lot of physical skills, you will often hear the words muscle memory and this is exactly what you are building for yourself.
A good example to help showcase all of this would be if you were to look at some of the NFL’s all-time greatest players. Virtually every one of them all have one thing in common, they worked for it. Jerry Rice would be an excellent player to look at. He worked on his craft every day of his career and did so much harder and longer than others, thus why he is now considered one of the best WR’s of all time.
We Are Not Computers
Often these days you will hear the comparison that the human mind is a lot like a computer, however I don’t think that is the case. I can’t just download a program that teaches me a new skill, though that would be great. I can’t just set perimeters up and expect my body to follow them either.
The human mind works off of its experience and life history. This is why practicing and working on the skills that are the most important to you is vital. We need to get all of the experience that we can, as the more of it that we have the better our chances are of doing what we want to do.
This is why all of the above information is so important. We need set ourselves up for success and understand the process of improvement. Knowing that it will take time and effort, that you will and need to make mistakes, and that you have to be consistent with your efforts, all plays a role in how practice makes perfect.
Share Your Story
Do you have a perspective or story that you can share with us to help understand the concepts here better? Do you still have questions about the process? Either way, please leave a comment down below and do your part in helping make the world a better place for all.
If you enjoyed this article, here are several others that I have written that tie into this subject very well:
- The Importance of Learning From Mistakes
- Even Little Steps are Progress
- Managing Emotions in the Decision Making Process
- How to be Appreciative by Being Open Minded
- How to be Successful in Life
- Book Review: The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris
Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you back again someday!
James W D