Practice makes . . .

Monday June 17, 2013

Perfectionism is a hard task master. It can stop you doing things. (What's the point of trying if I can't do it perfectly.) It can reduce the satisfaction and self-esteem you earn from your achievements.

An extreme example of this effect is the Olympic athlete who wins a bronze medal (an extraordinary achievement by any rational measure) yet feels a failure.

A friend who went on a tennis course says she learned a valuable insight from her coach. At one stage, the coach said to the group of learners: "What does practice make?" The group replied, parrot-fashion: "Practice makes perfect."

Wrong, said the coach, immediately getting their attention. "The correct answer is, practice makes permanent." The goal of practice is not perfection, because this is never consistently achievable. The goal of practice is to replace negative habits with positive habits, permanently.

The mind is malleable. It can be reconfigured to think differently. Even people with serious brain damage can retrain their brain to think effectively again. Musical prodigies are simply people who practice more than others and thereby make the most of their talent.

There are no short cuts. Practice makes permanent, not perfect.

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