Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Practice makes perfect? Nope... practice makes improvement!

The brisk morning air pierces my lungs as I step outside heading towards my SUV. It's cold outside, but I am committed to the process. I'm heading to my 6am martial arts class. Lack of sleep, freezing Chicago wind, and hunger all try to convince me to turn the ignition to the off position and go back in the house. "It's only one day you will miss... go inside where it's warm." Those are the thoughts that ramble through my mind, but I press forward.

27 minutes later I arrive at the United Schools of Survival. The morning class is small. There is no place to hide when the instructor can see everyone. The benefit is that the personal attention is great. (STAY WITH ME, I'M GETTING TO THE GOOD PART). Though our school is run by Grand Master Anthony Muhamnmad (martial arts hall of famer), today the class is with Sensei Abdul. Only 3 people decided to show up this day, so the personal attention became very personal.

Without giving you the entire play by play, here is one of the lessons learned from the day. While working on our Ippon Seionage (Japanese for one arm shoulder throw), I had the opportunity to work one of one with Sensei Abdul. I had been practicing outside the dojo, and developed a flaw in my footing which mad it harder for me to get the leverage I needed to throw my opponent. Time and time again, Sensei Abdul allowed me to throw him (he's about 100 pounds 80 pounds heavier than I am. He knew what I was doing wrong. He saw my errors. I told him that I had been practicing. He said "Practice makes _____?" I filled in the blank and said "PERFECT, sir!" We switched positions and now I was the one being tossed... again... and again... and again... and again. He did it with ease. He stood over me and reached out his hand to help me up as he said "PERFECT PRACTICE makes perfect."

How many times in life have we done something wrong over and over again while wondering why we don't get the results we want. Why are professional athletes paid top dollar to do what they do? It's because of the hours of practice they put in before they even play an actual game. Practice makes improvement. If you really want to do well at something, no matter what it is, you have to work at it. Spaced repetition is the mother of all learning. It also helps to have a good mentor in your respected field to recognize and correct your mistakes. The reason why many people fail is because they refuse to commit to the process. They refuse to practice on the things that they need to get better at to be successful. They give up when it is hard, or even worse they don't even try at all. Practice makes improvement. The only way to get better is to get better... and you do that through spaced repetition. This is applicable in pretty much every area of life. One of my mentors named Michael Clouse told me "It's ok to be bad at something at first, as long as your goal is to get better over time." The key is to study and practice your craft over and over again time after time.

Suggested reading: The Language of Achievement by David Byrd

1 comment:

  1. The dedicated man or woman will often out succeed ALL others due to the sheer fact that they will not quit. Thank you for such a TIMELY post.