“THE POWER OF PRACTICE”
Drew Rozell, Ph.D. partners with a select number of dynamic individuals, groups, and progressive companies who wish to harness the power of Radical Responsibility to dramatically create better outcomes.
“OWN YOUR THOUGHTS, OWN YOUR LIFE”
A winter hike with my friends Chris, Bob, and BoBo the dog.We started at the furthest point on the pond in the distance. Walked over the ice to meet the trail. Temperature around zero degrees. Great fun and sun.
Welcome, my friend!
We’re still deep in winter here in the North Country.
Our family has expanded. Two weeks ago, we picked up Coco the cat from a cold country roadside and welcomed her into our warm house. So far, so good with Coco and the little ecosystem we have at our home.
When I’m not huddled up next to the woodstove, I’ve gotten some nice skiing in. However, it seems like all the big snowfalls have hit lower on the East Coast. Still waiting for a big powder day! While I’m enjoying winter, it’s nice to see the days growing longer as well.
I’ve spent the last few months getting myself in shape, and I am happy to report that I feel stronger and in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life. (I am confident I would be able to take the 20 or 30 year old version of myself handily). Anyway, I highly recommend tuning up your body and mind. It makes like a whole lot better.
That takes me to this month’s feature — practice.
It’s easy to overlook the power of practice, but there’s no getting around it. Practice is the true key to success.
I hope you find this month’s article valuable and I thank you for your support.
P.S. If you like this, please share it with someone. Or leave a comment.
THE POWER OF PRACTICE
“An ounce of practice is worth tons of teaching” – Mahatma Gandhi
Set aside the whole humility thing for a moment.
And allow the answers to flow out of you.
At what endeavor—work or hobby or sport—are you great?
Not good? GREAT.
Take a moment and bask in some of the skills that you’ve mastered in your lifetime.
Maybe you’re great at baking pies. Doing a perfect downward dog. Flirting. Sudoku. Running marathons. Making furniture. Grilling a steak to perfection. Writing stories. Fixing a car engine. Choosing stocks. Playing Frisbee.
Tell me what you are great at and I know something important about you.
I know where you have invested a significant amount of your time and energy. I know what you have practiced.
Perhaps this seems obvious. We all know the importance of practice if we wish to reach a level of mastery in our lives. But the true power of practice is emerging in at least a couple new ways worth exploring.
First, when see greatness in other people, very often we think of these people as being uniquely gifted and different from ourselves. For example, when I listen to Eddie Van Halen playing a guitar solo, I am much more likely to think about his amazing dexterity and creativity as a gift from God than I am to think of all hours he spent in a bedroom somewhere, building calluses on his fingertips, hitting the wrong notes countless time until he got the magic progression.
Likewise, when I think of Michael Phelps, I think of someone with a perfect swimmer’s body. I remember hearing how his big feet serve as flippers in the water. Surely, he was born to race dolphins, right? Images of him beginning his day before dawn to spend six hours a day in a pool practicing do not readily come to mind. But he was there, as was Eddie.
While it might be true that the chances of me meeting the standards of Eddie or Michael in their respective fields are slim, there’s growing evidence that the gap between their God-given abilities and mine are significantly smaller that I think. In fact, an excellent book, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle makes a compelling case that greatness is grown, not born. In other words, the secret to achieving greatness lies much more deeply in the habits we adopt rather than winning the gene lottery.
Coyle shares the research underneath the power of practice, specifically how deep practice builds myelin, the insulation that wraps around our nerve fibers. The more myelin we have, the more quickly and accurately our nerve impulses fire and the better we perform. To make his point, Coyle offers evidence ranging from singers to fighter pilots. The essential ingredient is practice. In short, a formula for greatness could be written as follows:
Deep Practice x 10,000 Hours = World Class Skill.
If you want something, you need to make the decision to focus your energy in that place. It’s not that complex. The top performers practice more and they practice smarter than everyone else. (It’s worth noting that along with practice, The Talent Code identifies the need to have a great coach who is an expert at teaching what you wish to learn as another essential ingredient in success. Clearly, all top performers invest in coaches and mentors. You should too if you wish to play at the highest level.)
Another new way to think about the power of practice has to do with our thinking. When we think about practice, we still tend to think about engaging in an activity or mastering a technique.
We do not typically think of the power and importance of practicing where we focus our thoughts. Again, the top performers in any field recognize the importance of learning how to direct their thoughts (Phelps has practiced directing his thoughts and meditation techniques since he was 12).
But most of us still don’t think about our thinking very much. And what’s to be gained by taking the time to direct our thoughts?
Well, consider this: Show me the thoughts you’ve practiced and I can tell you exactly what you are creating in your life. The thoughts we practice become our beliefs and our beliefs do the creating in our lives. For example, a recent study on aging showed that people’s thoughts about aging may play a larger role in our health than the physiological factors that we and doctors tend to pay the most attention to.
The study looked at the beliefs people held about aging. Did they think negative thoughts about aging (Things keep getting worse as I get older) or positive thoughts (I am as happy now as when I was younger)?
Checking the records twenty years later, the researchers found that those who were in the habit of practicing negative thoughts died, on average, seven and a half years earlier that those who practiced positive thoughts about aging. Choosing positive thoughts made far more difference than many of the typical, more action-oriented practices like lowering blood pressure 0r reducing cholesterol (avg. +4 years) as well as the benefits of proper body weight, exercise, and not smoking (avg. between + 1-3 years).
Even though a large percentage of our beliefs are not in alignment with our desires, most people do not devote a specific portion of their day to practicing better thoughts. It’s simply easier not to, right? Think of it this way, noticing that you do not have as much money as you would like is easy. Picturing yourself having lots more money requires more conscious effort.
Considering that only about 16% of Americans engage in physical exercise every day, I would guess that the percentage of people consciously directing their thoughts is significantly less.
My take away point is this: you have everything you need to be great at whatever you desire in this world. It’s all within you already. But here’s the deal. In order to activate this greatness within you, you need to take charge of every aspect of your life. You need to show up. You need to understand that you will become what you do.
But even more important, making the decision to adopt a practice for directing your thoughts will make a huge, positive impact on your life. Yes, it takes time, energy, and commitment, but I’m guessing that you could carve out 10 minutes a day to start, right? Before you go to sleep, take a few minutes to focus on what you appreciate. Connect to the good things that you accomplished that day. When you wake, before your feet hit the floor, connect to more thoughts of appreciation. Pick out a few things you are looking forward to this new day. Expect the best.
Over the next decade or two, I’m confident that our awareness on the importance of practicing where we focus our thoughts will continue to grow. Those on the cutting edge of any field are already there.
Why not join them?
AN INVITATION TO THE CUTTING EDGE
CONNECT WITH DREW
Ah, the cutting edge.
A very cool place to be, methinks. Uncommonly cool.
Definitely not for everybody. In fact, it’s not for most people. (And that’s fine.)
But if it’s for YOU… well then, I have an invitation for you.
Because no one gets there alone.
THE FIRST STEP
The first step to living on the cutting edge is to get clear on what you desire in your life. Where are you going? What do you need to get there? What’s in your way?
Get clear and your life starts moving in the direction of your desire. Remain unclear, and well, not much happens!
So if you are ready to take the first step to creating a life of focus, freedom, and fun, then I encourage you to take me up on this offer.
I am offering 5 breakthrough sessions for the members of this list. The one-on-one phone sessions with Drew are 30 minutes long and the investment is $75 to reserve your spot. (This is a fraction of my normal fee).
And to boot, I’ll guarantee that you’ll be happy with the results.
First come, first serve.
Hope to connect with you…
* A Book and a Movie *
• A Book:
THE ART OF RACING THE RAIN: By Garth Stein. Received this book as a gift from my auntie Fran and I savored it like a really good cup of coffee. Written from the perspective of a dog, it’s not really a “dog book,” but certainly dog lovers will appreciate it. Learned a bit about auto racing and dare I say there were some Law of Attraction insights in there too. Worth your investment.
• A Movie:
UP IN THE AIR: Made it to the theater. First time in a while. We were there 10 minutes early and still got the last two seats — you guessed it, right up front. Despite being 18 inches from George Clooney’s six-foot head, we really enjoyed this film. Made me appreciate Clooney’s skill as an actor (the role was written for him and it shows), and everything seemed true to life, from the acting to the writing. Deserves all of its accolades. Worth your investment.
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ISSN: #1530-3101 Library Of Congress, Washington D.C., USA © Copyright 2010 by Drew Rozell, Ph.D. – All Rights Reserved