I know that sounds tongue-in-cheek. But it’s a topic I find myself reinforcing with my kids all the time. And it’s just as true for adults, including seasoned practitioners. It’s wonderful if we are blessed with some natural talent. But talent is not enough. Practice and repetition makes the difference between an excellent athlete and an elite athlete. Between a professional carpenter and someone who is truly a master builder. Between a skilled musician and a person who is groundbreaking. Think about it, would you rather have for your surgeon someone who is brilliant and smart and has studied, or someone who has spent years working hands-on and practicing the exact surgery you need?
When my kids are happy about a good grade on a test, I ask them what do they think made them successful. Without fail, they are most proud when they put in the time to study. When my daughter has an aerial dance performance, what makes it possible for her to do those funky maneuvers? A year ago she could almost-but-not-quite do the splits, but she has been practicing every night and now she can do the splits on both sides while suspended in the air on a silk ribbon. My son has been practicing his rock climbing skills for 9 years. He started with natural talent and ability, but it’s the 3 to 4 days per week, week in and week out, that made his finger tendons so strong.
Some of the things I want to get better at:
- Striking up conversations with new people in social situations
- Playing harmonica
I’m fortunate to have some natural ability in each of these activities; yet it’s obvious I have no chance of improving if I don’t practice. (That first one is the hardest – it means going out into places where I will be among strangers and actually striking up a conversation. For me that’s like eating lima beans.)
What things do you want to get better at?