How would you finish the sentence: Practice makes _______?
Practice makes perfect is the most common ending to that sentence.
Less popular, but no less true sentences would be:
Practice can make you better (or not).
Practice makes you crazy.
Practice makes you want to quit/give up.
Practice is necessary.
By now we’ve all heard the study that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. Think Tiger Woods and golf, Bill Gates and computer programming. You get the picture. When you are really motivated to do something, or when it is something that really interests you, practicing is a challenge and a joy to do. You want to get better so you practice and practice some more. You see the results and any little improvement serves as motivation to keep going, doing and pushing forward.
But what about the things that don’t come so easily? Practice in those cases feels like a chore, something you HAVE to do even though you don’t enjoy it very much.
My son loves baseball. I joke with friends that if I had the energy he would practice with me nonstop all day long. It is his passion, he loves it and practicing baseball is something he enjoys very much. Whether it’s a dropped fly ball or a swing and a miss, he is self-motivated to try it again and again (and again) until he gets it right. It is not work for him; it is pure enjoyment. On the other hand, reading is not something he particularly likes. First of all, it requires sitting still for a period of time, something that is not easy for an active eight year old. Second, it’s just not something that he truly enjoys (which is especially hard for me to relate to as a lifelong book lover). So for all of these reasons, he’s not super excited to sit down and read for his nightly homework assignment. I’ve started to relate reading to practicing – having to sound out a word is no different than dropping a pop fly. Just because you drop it doesn’t mean you quit playing forever. No, you figure out what you did wrong and try to do it better the next time.
As adults it gets easier to avoid the things that require practice. If you are not good at something or not interested in getting better, you just don’t do it. But if we are all honest with ourselves, we would realize that practice is on-going and never ending. There is always something that we must practice – it may be a physical task related to your job, or exercise, or diet. Or it may even be interpersonal practice – figuring out how to get along with a co-worker or resolve a misunderstanding with a friend. Or it may just be being a parent – we’re all just practicing aren’t we? You practice handling a situation with your kids in the best way you know possible in that moment. If it doesn’t work out, then you learn from it and use it to guide you the next time.
What I know now is that the old saying is wrong, practice never makes perfect. Practice often makes you better, but there’s no guarantee. (Ever tried to play golf?) Practice certainly helps us learn, improve and know more for next time. The only thing that is for sure is that practice is never over.
Journal on this: What practice have you been avoiding?
p.s. Tomorrow is our next Journal 2 Joy workshop! Visit http://www.balancedheartcoaching.com/journal-2-joy.html for all the details!
Last night as I was driving from work to get the kids I started thinking about what we would do when we got home. After a long week, I wanted us to all spend time together, but selfishly I also wanted to relax. I knew they would be tired too and it was possible they would want to do their own thing. It reminded me of when they were babies I was so excited to see them I’d practically run out of work. When I finally made it to the daycare their face would light up. They were as happy to see me as I was to see them. I remember the feeling vividly.
How you greet someone sets the tone for everything that comes next. Feelings are contagious. Greet someone with joy and excitement and they’ll likely rise to meet your excitement. On the other hand, if you are quiet or tired the other person will instantly ask “What’s wrong?”. They’ll automatically abandon the feelings they were having to meet you at your level. Hello is such a simple word but depending on our inflection, volume and tone, it can take on so much more.
How we greet each other can have a big impact on our relationships. Our current feelings (aka energy) directly impact the other person. Often we allow these feelings to be driven by instinct. If you are trying to make a good impression with a boss, teacher or new friend, you automatically rise to the occasion with a positive and enthusiastic greeting. In relationships where you are more comfortable (spouse, parent, old friend), our instinct may default to letting our tiredness show through. Our greetings in these situations are unfiltered and often a reflection of our exact emotion in that moment (which is not always a good thing).
What would happen if we paid more attention to the way we said “Hello”?
Journal on this: Think about the different ways you greet people throughout the day - how does your greeting change? How do others greet you? How do those greetings make you feel? Is there a relationship (romantic, friend, family, work, etc.) that would benefit if you changed up your greeting?
p.s. How does your energy impact your everyday relationships? In our next Journal 2 Joy workshop, “Relationships: It’s all about YOU!”, we’ll dig deeper into this very topic! I hope you’ll join us Sunday, February 28th as we talk about the role we play in ALL our relationships, not just romantic relationships, but family, work and friendships too. R.S.V.P. today, visit http://www.balancedheartcoaching.com/journal-2-joy.html for all the details.
Love is in the air and all around. You can’t walk into a store, listen to the radio or be on the web without getting bombarded by messages of Valentine’s Day. Similar to how we have one day in November set aside to be thankful, we also have one day in February set aside for love. The big difference is that our day for love has more pressure and is met with more cynicism than our day of gratitude. Why do you think that is?
At it’s core, the expression of love is when we are at our most honest, most authentic and truly coming from a place of pure feeling. If we do something for someone from a place of love, we are doing it because it is our intention that it will help that person. Think about it, we never do something out of love that we think will make someone’s life harder, do we? Do we ever give someone a gift thinking they will hate it? Do we ever make them a meal with the intention that they will think it is disgusting? The intention behind showing someone love is pure. We do it because we want to express our gratitude and our feelings by doing something thoughtful for someone.
Somewhere along the line, we made love extremely complicated. We made it about the person’s reaction to our gift of love. We made it about what they gave us in return. We made it conditional. We attached values to it and started keeping score.
They say the opposite of love is fear. I don’t disagree, however, instead of being at opposite ends of the spectrum, they seem to live together side by side. When we think about showing love to family and friends our very next thought is to consider their reaction. We sit in fear wondering and waiting, or even holding back showing love all together because we are afraid of their reaction. We worry that we were too open, that they will judge us or that our love will not be reciprocated on the same level. Earlier this week I was asked to write a testimonial for a friend who has really helped me out. As I wrote my instinct was to edit my words, holding my true feelings back a little bit in case my pure gratitude sounded too over the top. At that point that I caught myself. These words were the way I felt from my heart why should I edit that? I decided to put it all out there and not hold anything back out of fear on how it would be received. I told myself her reaction was not going to change the way I felt about the situation. Think about that for a minute. Can you think of a time when you wanted to do something for someone but then held back because of their potential reaction or because they might not feel the same way? If we are acting from a place of pure love for someone, their reaction doesn’t matter. What matters is that we take the time to express our feelings of love towards the people in our lives.
Love is contagious, if we allow it to be. When you do something out of love for someone, it makes them feel good and (hopefully) inspires them to reach out to someone they love and keep the love going. I say “if we allow it to be” because too often we bring resistance, suspicion and don’t allow ourselves to fully accept someone else’s gift of love to us. We guard ourselves by thinking that if we protect ourselves we will not get hurt. It’s easy to let the fear of hurt override the joy of love.
Kids are a great reminder of how simple love can be. They give hugs without a second thought. They draw pictures to share with anyone who has a free space on their wall. They give Valentine’s for the entire class because the shared experience of being in the class is enough to make them a friend.
Let’s get back to simplicity. Let’s let our feelings of love be our guide. Let’s find ways to show love every day. Let’s start today.
Journal on this: Who do you show love to every day? If you had more time, who would you add to that list? What can you do to add more love to your daily routine?
p.s. Love can be complicated and so are relationships! That’s why our next Journal 2 Joy workshop is titled “Relationships: It’s all about YOU!” I hope you’ll join us Sunday, February 28th as we talk about our role and how we can use that to create stronger relationships. R.S.V.P. today, visit http://www.balancedheartcoaching.com/journal-2-joy.html for all the details.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.