“Choose your corner, pick away at it carefully, intensely and to the best of your ability and that way you might change the world

Charles Eames

FIERCELY AWARE: The Call to Get Fierce: 1.3.5

Practice, Practice, Practice Makes…Improvement

You will be fierce and start to make changes.  And, like all of us, you will have missteps, too.  The most important thing is to try again.  Similar to developing any new skill or habit, adopting a strengths-based approach to life requires persistent attention.

Anyone who has achieved a milestone knows of the countless hours of practice behind breakthrough success. You probably don’t remember but, it took a lot of practice and a lot of falling to achieve one of your first major accomplishments – walking!  You are just like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Kobe Bryant, Pablo Picasso, Brett Favre, Claude Monet, and Wolfgang Mozart. After comparing their lives to contemporaries, Ron Friedman, author of The Best Place to Work, asserts that the sheer volume of effort produced by these individuals far outnumbered their peers and was the differentiator in their performance. The quality that distinguishes their work would not be possible without the quantity of their attempts. 

Like dripping water slowly making an impression on a stone, the most significant changes and accomplishments are the aggregate of small choices and efforts which may, in the moment, appear to have little impact.  If the time frame for dripping water seems too long, think about it this way.  Would you like to lose ten pounds?  Simply replace the two pieces of toast or bowl of cereal you regularly enjoy for breakfast with an apple.  Do this every single day for a year and you will drop ten pounds. It’s a small change, but the consistency makes a dramatic difference.  Sadly, I have no personal experience with this activity, it’s just what the nutritionists tell me!

 

 

I do have experience with a much shorter timeline of practice and change.   Three years ago I began a yoga practice. I love it.  With the first downward dog position of any class, my hamstrings pull against my heels as they struggle to find the floor, my spine stiffly reaches for the floor and ceiling, and my wrists feel the uncomfortable weight of gravity from the rest of my body.  (Did I actually say I love it?) In the next 75 minutes, after we have come back to this pose many times, the teacher will frequently ask how this same pike position feels at the end of class versus the beginning.  A transformation has taken place. With our practice, the pose has morphed from a challenge, to a resting position.

Consistency and practice changes even the most entrenched habits and beliefs. One of the most common beliefs is that you either are or are not an artist. If you need proof, pull out a game of Pictionary to play with a non artistic group and see how fast they find something else to do.  But even our artistic potential is highly malleable with practice.  In her classic book, Drawing on Right Side of the Brain, Betty Edwards proves that learning to see differently and practicing relentlessly can turn a stick-figure artist into the real thing.

Just like Kobe, Pablo, and Betty Edward’s students, you can practice your way into success leading a strengths-based life.  And it matters to everyone around you…read more here.