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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Practice

When I was 8 years old, my aunt decided to teach me how to sew. This was of course after a day of pleading with her to teach me how to make something. She was one of those "afghan making" aunts. Anyway, I am not sure of her exact methodology in teaching me to thread a needle and try something creative, all I recall is my lack of patience. I distinctly remember being able to mend a sock, but hopelessly incapable of making those fancy cozies or delicately stitched table runners.

After several attempts to emulate her work, I gave up and decided against sewing, even though my aunt tried to lure me back in with promises that I would get better eventually. But I didn't want eventually - I wanted to be as good as my aunt, then and there. I overlooked the importance of practice and my family neglected to take this perfect opportunity to instill the concept of discipline.

Unfortunately many of us have been taught that "to focus our attention and practice" is to waste time. With so much information literally at our fingertips, we have become quite lazy when it comes to tasks that require practice and commitment. Think about how many things you do with a noncommittal approach. I can think of several off the top of my head. So much of our day-to-day is spent on effortless and sometimes meaningless chores.

I don't mean to imply "practice makes perfect," as perfection is impossible to achieve. Rather I look at practice as a mindful commitment to improve ourselves through a chosen skill. It's a way of developing our Self through a sort of joyful discipline. It doesn't have to be painful. Your choice of what to "practice" can be completely outside of your profession. It can be cooking, karate, teaching, photography, investing, writing, building homes, anything so long as it is something you fully commit to doing.

The beautiful thing about the end result of committing to practice is that it spills into other areas of your life - building upon the patience, dedication, and attention to detail you will acquire.

Successful people are not totally absorbed in one mindless task or another. Most effective leaders or visionaries are very focused on become more effective people, more capable. They have chosen to practice and put what they have learned and what they continue to learn into action.

If you aren't exactly sure where to start - simply practice being more aware of your surroundings. You can learn a lot of relevant things if you just ignore the "brain static" for a few moments.

Listen closely...

A
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