When we refer to certain professions we call the business of it a practice. My friend’s husband has a dental practice, I have a coaching practice, my brother practices law. Within those parameters we might refer to the dentist as “excellent”, the coach as “supportive” and the lawyer-at least in my brother’s case-as “ethical.” I’ve been thinking about the different ideas around the word “practice.”
“To be engaged in professionally” is one definition at Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary. This is a person “doing.” The latter descriptions, excellent, supportive, ethical; refer to the person being and represent values.
Regardless of whether we are engaged professionally in something or we are setting a personal goal based on a concept we value the way to mastery lies in practice.
Perhaps The Key to mastery is to practice self acceptance and give up what a set back “means” so that we don’t take ourselves out of the game. It has been said that we are “meaning making machines” and I concur. It has also been said that our self talk is the power link to what we see as results in our lives. Physical pain is measurable and more often than not manageable. Self-inflicted mental pain is limitless, can be debilitating, but can also be managed.
In the past if I’d say, “I’m going to clean out that drawer in the bathroom this week” and I don’t do it my tendency was to beat myself up. “I never do this, that, or the other thing when I say I will.” If I believe that I create results based on what I tell myself it’s no wonder the drawer is still full of product samples from my Barbie doll era.
Another sure way to postpone mastery is to repeatedly say, “I’ll try.” Try infers an attempt; a great place to start. The old saying “if at first you don’t succeed” etc. may be good advice but it comes with the flip side of succeed which is fail. Is it ok to fail in this win-win society? Sure it is if you think of that word as a part of the process and not the end of the game. Harv Eker refers to the work of getting to a goal as one of “correct and continue.” Each time you set out to hit a target, achieve a personal goal, or change a habit, you either do or do not do it. If you do, great, what’s next? If you miss the target take a look at what worked, what didn’t, and what you can do better next time. Correct and continue. It’s a practice.
In sports the coach may use strong language to motivate the players but he is rooting for them nonetheless. In business managers and heads of companies use coaches who hold them to their intentions by asking for dates and times and following up to see that the thing was done. They too are rooting for the person. In both instances the idea behind the coaching is to support people to master showing up for themselves. To play a bigger game if you will. If we have repeatedly let ourselves down in the past-or perceived we have–we are always doing our best whether you want to believe that or not–the first bit of practice is to refuse to see ourselves as losers.
When we try on a new idea-I can be a millionaire or I can be healthy-and we feel this to be possible we are excited and so take steps towards that goal. Since energy does not travel in a straight line the likely hood of us staying on a straight path of doing and action towards that goal is slim. We may be distracted by life, by fear, by procrastination. With these things comes a loss of energy for achieving our goal. Focus scatters and now is when we often start the negative self talk. We do the try/fail tango because we don’t consider that every action or moment of inaction and reflection is part of the journey. That’s all. Was buying that cheap laptop a bad choice even though it’s not what you’d hoped? No, it was just a choice based on the information you had. Does it mean you are not capable of making good decisions and you should quit right now? I’ll let you answer that.
We are encouraged to practice our chosen professions to become proficient enough to be seen as successful by the world’s standards. Some practice being a better parent, spouse, team leader; all noble ideas. The majority will have some form of spiritual practice which is essential to their well being. I would like to add another possibility. That to practice self love will enhance all of these.
Remember there really is no “try” as Yoda said, “only do or do not do.” Why one choice, to do, makes us good and the other makes us bad should be recognized as self sabotage. Try on the idea that we create our reality with our words. Consider that we have much to learn about ourselves and it’s mostly going to come by trial and error. Stay aware that life is a gift and we choose how we spend it. Take a moment to think about what you want to say about the perfection you already are regardless of what you choose to see. That will no doubt take some practice. I believe that mastering this idea will mean you’ve achieved the greatest goal of all.
What could it mean for you?