Practicing

Imagine, if you were choosing a system to assist you learn a new skill, wouldn’t you want one with a proven track record for successful achievement?

What if I told you that you ARE familiar with such a system? A system that whatever you want to learn to do, you have already mastered how to do it. You have a proven 100% successful track record in using the system of practicing until you get it.

We’ve never met but I know you’re good at practicing. How do I know? Look at everything you can do! It all took practice. Some skills take a little practice, others a lot of practice and most fall somewhere in between the two. For most of us, learning to walk is the hardest thing we ever learn. Further, I think if we waited until we were adults, we’d still be crawling. Learning to walk takes that much practice.

The thing about practicing is that after we achieve our goal, we begin to take it for granted. We forget how difficult it was, how stressful and long it took us. The doubts and fears others often felt for us, watching our struggles. No, all that’s forgotten as we take it for granted. Then when something new comes up, we doubt our ability to learn it. Sometimes we give up just before mastering the new skill. Once we master the skill – we put our spin on it, making it ours.

It’s reasonable to wonder: If all I need to do is practice, then why are there things I practiced, practiced hard and long but I never could master, and I just quit? Why? You quit too soon or had a mistaken process.

Process includes identifying our objectives, the what and why we’re practicing. After all, there’s a difference between practicing quarterbacking and practicing being the starting quarterback. Not that one can’t practice being the starting quarterback, but that’s a different process, one we’re not addressing here. Here, we’re practicing achieving something within our control. LFT advocates focusing on what we can control, at best, what We Say – Think – Do. Sometimes, regrettably, we don’t always control those.

Picture this Star Wars’ scene: In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke found Yoda to learn the way of the Jedi. Luke crashed his X-wing fighter into a swamp, and Yoda instructed him to raise it out of the swamp. We see Luke working at it and we see it rise slightly, his buddy R2-D2 gets excited, makes electronic noises, distracting Luke and the X-wing falls back in the swamp.

Luke is frustrated and doubts himself. Yoda impatiently tells him to get it done. Luke says he is trying.

Yoda responds “No. Try not! Do or do not! There is no try!”

Luke feeling frustrated, gives up and says it can’t be done.

I worked with Yoda’s quote for a long time before I realized I had confused myself. I was using the word “Do” as though it was the word “Done.” Do is an action verb. Basically, “do” means practice. Do is not about the outcome. Do is exemplified in the old saying that life is about the journey, not the destination. Do is the journey; it’s the action of practicing. What we say, think, and do are the only things we can control.

I believe a better response for Luke would have been to acknowledge his effort, give himself credit, saying I’m getting there! and Yoda saying, Commit or Do not commit would be more appropriate, more easily understood, although it wouldn’t have had the same impact.

Committing to our intention or goal is within our control. The goal’s purpose is to set our direction. Then our next step is to invest in the process – follow-up by practicing our action plan while reminding ourselves “I’m getting there!”

1. Set your goal
2. Determine the process, your actions to achieve your goal
3. Put your goal aside
4. Invest in the process

Non-attachment, emotionally disconnecting goal achievement from our emotions is the surest way to enjoy our journey while moving towards our destination. Until we disconnect our emotions, we’re likely to experience mood swings.

We feel Life Rocks! when we achieve our goals but Life Sucks! when we don’t. As Descartes said, “Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.” When our emotions are connected to achievement, we set ourselves up for frequent disappointments, which in turn leads us to frustration, disappointment, and often giving up.

You’ve heard it said – life is about the journey, not the outcome. Our journey, our thoughts, words, and actions are within our control. The outcome is up to God. By investing in and focusing on our process, our journey, we set the stage for consistent positive experiences, which in turn, leads us in creating a chain of successes, building our self-confidence that fosters our enthusiasm, receptivity to new opportunities, and enjoyment of the experience itself.

It is how we can have our cake and eat it, too. A secret is to quit labeling things as “Good” or “Bad” thereby cutting our emotional connection between achieving something and working towards it. It’s not that we don’t have goals; we use them to set our direction. Our power and joy are in our journey towards our goals.

Everything we can do we didn’t need to believe we could; we didn’t need to understand the principles of, nor did we need to positive think our way through it.

We needed a model, encouragement and to practice. Learning to walk took relentless practice, while some things came naturally with only a little or moderate practice. Regardless, everything took practice. Our models may be real or imagined; our encouragement may be external or internal, and our practice real or imagined.

Descartes said, “If you would be a real seeker of truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” That’s what I did. A healthy skepticism is part and parcel in our natural progression; it is through discovering, doubting, and experiencing that we find truth. Doubt what I am describing but follow the steps and see for yourself. That’s what I did.

We can take practicing to higher level by tapping into the power of music to inspire, develop and make new connections. Furthermore, we have been encouraged by great minds to let music stir, guide, and energize us in journey.

Beethoven encouraging us to let music assist us in assimilating new ideas said, “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual” and “Music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind, but which mankind cannot comprehend.”

We are hardwired for happiness and music moves through our self-created walls and barriers, speaking to our heart so we feel and experience the happiness already within us. Music unites the concepts and the vision with us, motivating and sustaining us in our process.

At certain key points in songs, I frequently replace the artists’ words with my own words personalizing the songs and driving home the message I want to reinforce. Practice with it and see how it works for you.

Singing along with these songs repeatedly is almost magical. It’s as if it develops a protective aura around us, difficult for fear, uncertainty and doubt to break through as the music empowers our learning process; fostering our learning quicker and deeper.

As Henry Miller encouraged us, “One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”

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