As a child in elementary school, I hated math practice. It was tedious and boring for me. And I had thought, if I know how to do something, why do I need to practice so rigorously and so repetitively? Why do I need to show my work if I can easily do it in my head?
1. Practice Like a Professional
Interested in language, I noticed how some professionals (such as doctors and lawyers) referred to their business of being a professional as a “practice”. Whaaat? Weren’t all those years of post-secondary education supposed to be practice enough? Don’t they know their stuff yet?
The more professionals I met, the more I realized that they really don’t know their stuff as confidently as they portray themselves to know it. They are constantly “practicing” a whole bunch of theories and experiences which may or may not be effective. But the practice isn’t about a lack of fundamental understanding–it is more of a humbleness around “we don’t know what we don’t know”, “we could never possibly know everything”, and “there are no magic bullets”.
2. Practice Like a Sports Team
But I did have a special education teacher sit with me individually, as she supervised me practicing my hand-writing and typewriting skills. In co-creation or in teams, we keep ourselves more accountable, and keep regular, rigorous practice.
3. Practice Like a Coach/Teacher
Following instructions, procedures, and protocol precisely is paramount. However, another approach is to ask questions from a higher-context. How can we improve our practice? Are there ways in which we can be more effective? What will motivate people most?
The Japanese have one word (Kaizen) for the concept of “constant and never-ending improvement”. The practice is not the practice. The practice is in always improving the practice.
4. Practice Like a Monk
What’s your level of commitment? For a monk, it is years on end if not a lifetime (if not multiple lifetimes). The practice is continuous, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. That is commitment!
Buddhism, meditation, yoga, and new age spirituality all focus on the power of now, by prioritizing the practice. Rev, Michael Bernard Beckwith said, he doesn’t find time for meditation in his life—he finds time for life around his mediation.
5. Practice Like a Pick-Up Artist (or Entrepreneur)
The odds of winning in this paradigm are miniscule. A pick-up artist knows he will get rejected most of the time. The artist is looking for that “big break” that will get them international distribution and put them in the one percent that succeed. For entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, the odds aren’t much better.
Yet, we all continue to practice in the hopes/knowing that eventually we will hit the jackpot. The continual practice may improve our art, but the practice is about consistency, and knowing that winning happens randomly, arbitrarily, or sometimes luckily: The practice increases the odds.
6. Practice Like it’s Life or Death
Some people can only succeed with this extreme type of framework. All of a sudden, resources become available when the stakes are as high as they can be. Sometimes it’s just human psychology, but sometimes the lack of practice can be fatal.
For example, severe depression can lead to suicide, so a practice that is not followed on just one occasion, could become a disaster. Another scenario could be not following safety practice in a dangerous job situations. A good practice can be life-saving.
7. Practice Like there’s No Tomorrow (Enjoy It)
So this is not about going over-the-top, one more round of practice, pushing yourself over the edge. In contrast, it’s about holistically listening to our bodies, being with what is, and accepting circumstances that may even limit our ability to practice. At times, we need to take two steps back in order to go forward in the right direction.
8. Practice Like there’s No “Perfect”
Have you heard that “practice makes perfect”? Casey Combden taught that that statement is misleading: We could be practicing incorrectly, and therefore never achieve the results we are after. Casey said, “perfect practice makes perfect”.
But is it possible to always perfectly practice? In previous generations, concepts like “perfect practice” were achievable because not much changed in a generation. Today, because of technology, globalization and other factors, what is considered “perfect” today, is not going to be “perfect” for tomorrow. The ideal becomes a moving target, and so the practice will never be perfect.
9. Practice Like You Don’t Need to Finish
One of my favorite emotions is the excitement I get when I have a new idea about an inspiring article (like this one). With so many triggers in life, sometimes I would get negative thoughts about the idea, and stop myself from moving forward.
Through the help of one of my therapists, I realized I was polarized in my behavior. I know I’m not going to produce a super-viral sensation with each instance of a great idea. So now, when I have an idea, I just start writing. I may never finish the article, or post it anywhere, and that’s OK. My practice is of writing, not necessarily of completing.
10. Practice Like You Can’t Screw-Up
I’m taking improvisational comedy classes at Second City and am learning that the foundation of mastering the stage is having the notion that it is impossible to mess up. We must deal with whatever is and make it work. What ever happens just becomes part of the scene.
We may have exercises or games where we can interrupt the flow because of a conceived screw-up, and start from the beginning again. The best practice in this practice, is just to keep going. Since there are no screw-ups, there is no reboot.
11. Practice Like Practice is the Reward
Abraham Hicks answers the question, “how do we feel good” with the simple “find a thought that feels good and practice it until it becomes your proclivity”. I could do that, and I did, and it worked. However, many times I would wonder why I would have to put so much effort into it, and why it just didn’t happen automatically, and why, why, why?!
Now I get that the practice of doing that is far more important than asking questions about the practice. There’s nowhere to get. There’s just how are we going to practice…
How do you practice? What’s your favorite paradigm of practice, or have you custom-built one for your special life? Remember, practice, practice, practice.
Let’s love the world together…
[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary