We’ve all heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect.”
And many people believe that is true, because they have seen that when they do things over and over and over again, they get really good at that thing…in fact, almost perfect.
So it stands to reason that practice does indeed make perfect.
But here’s the thing. No one can every become perfect. I know, I know, it’s just a saying and we all know that we can’t become perfect at anything. We can only get really, really close to perfect and that is good enough.
So why am I trying to create a dispute about practice and perfection?
Because I’d like to present a more reasonable, and arguably, more valuable position about the act of practice.
Because just like we stated earlier, the more often we do something, the easier it is to do. That’s because we get used to it, we grow muscle memory around it, and before we know it, we have built a habit.
After all, isn’t that what we all really want anyway? To create a repository of habits so we don’t have to think so hard when we find ourselves in familiar situations. And how cool would it be if our habits helped us out in uncertain and ambiguous situations?
Consistent practice creates an environment of ease, comfort, and reliability. We don’t have to think about it; we just do it. It becomes second nature, automatic, a stable part of our operating system.
There’s an abundance of science that shows that when we do something over and over again, we strengthen our neurological network, building stronger, more powerful connections. The links between our brain cells actually get thicker with each repetition, improving the reliability of that action occurring in the future.
Sounds great, right?
That’s where trouble sets in. A habit can be helpful, or it can be harmful when it comes to pursuing a goal. If we don’t pay close attention and give proper care to each practice opportunity, we might find ourselves going backwards, because the habit we’re building is hurting our forward progress.
If, in our daily activities, we’re not aware of our reactions in difficult conversations, or we pay no mind to the way we treat people, we could be building strong habits of undesirable behaviors.
These habits take us further from our goal of being a better parent, a better leader, or a better friend.
Only through practice that is mindful of our own condition, thoughtful of others’ positions, and meaningful in the prevailing situation, can we ensure that our practice is helpful and not harmful.
Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.
So what thoughts and beliefs do you want to make permanent? What actions and behaviors do you want to see become habits? And how will you practice in a mindful, thoughtful, meaningful way to be sure your habits are bringing you closer to your goals and not further from them?
Your Mindful Moment:
Mindful practice builds helpful habits.Tweet