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Rule #51. Practice makes progress.
In the course of our relationship, my wife Clarissa and I have learned a lot from one another. We’ve each exposed the other to different ideas and new ways of doing things. One of the things that I’ve picked up from her is yoga. She’s an avid yogi, teaches a number of classes online and in local studios, and is an active member of the yoga community around the world. Now maybe you’ve never tried yoga, or maybe you have and it just isn’t your thing. That’s okay, because my favorite part of practicing yoga isn’t the yoga part, it’s the practicing.
Don’t get me wrong, the actual yoga has been incredibly helpful in improving my mobility, flexibility, and athleticism. It’s an important part of my training plan. But something I love about yoga is that you don’t “yog” and you don’t go “yogging.”
You practice yoga.
I love this approach. Some days your practice goes well. Other days it goes poorly. There are good days and bad days. You’re a perpetual student, always improving, always learning, forever practicing, There isn’t a day when you’re done. Continuing to practice even through the bad days, the good, or the appearance of mastery creates lasting progress.
Many people will tell you, “practice makes perfect,” but it doesn’t. You’ll never be perfect, you’re always going to need to keep improving, and the way to do that is through your practice. That’s why I say, “practice makes progress.”
I like to take that yogic idea of practice and lay it over the other things in my life. Archery is a good example. I’m just starting out, so I’m not a very skilled archer. Yet, over the last couple months, I’m starting to see improvement, because I practice regularly. I will always need to practice; Olympic level archers practice and train way more than I do, even though they’re much better shots than I am. That’s because practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress. They’re perpetually honing their craft, even when they have off days. Because everyone has off days.
The same is true of every sport, skill, or activity. If you want to get better, you have to practice. Power-lifting, bicycle racing, quilting, and cooking. If you want to get good, you have to practice, even when you’re doing poorly.
Now even though I’m saying that no one will ever be perfect, understand that this isn’t a negative concept. I’m not saying don’t try your hardest. I’m not saying don’t strive for perfection. Just don’t get discouraged when perfection seems unobtainable. It isn’t you; nobody is perfect.
Progress, however, is right in front of you for the taking. It’s always obtainable. It may be slight, at times imperceptible, but that’s how improvement works. It’s small incremental steps that slowly get you where you want to go. So what if practice won’t make you perfect? It will make you progress. Not every shot can be a bullseye, but if you’re consistently making your shots and continually putting forth the effort needed for improvement, are you going to get hung up because you’re imperfect? You can always get better. Always.
Practice, practice, practice. If you want to do something well, that’s the way to do it. Because even though we can never be perfect, through good days and bad, practice makes progress.
“Rules for Intrepid Living” is an ongoing weekly article that gives potential guidelines for how we can all live a more adventurous life.