I was talking with a friend the other day. He is an accomplished trumpet player.
“I was lucky,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed practicing. That’s what made me a good player.”
I think he’s onto something here. Many of us privately dread practice. We see it as drudgery. And there are definitely times when practice is challenging or even frustrating.
But in my years of coaching people on everything from leadership to soccer to piano to baking bread, I’ve noticed that practice works best if it’s experimental. Even playful.
As a youth soccer coach, I invented countless games to engage players in learning how I wanted them to play. Some games were miserable failures. Others got the point across. What mattered was that I continued to experiment with the practices until we got the desired results.
The same is true when we engage practices to help us become essential people, the ones who are safe and sane in a chaotic world. We treat our practices seriously, but at the same time we hold them lightly. We play. We experiment. We’re curious.
That’s how we practice in a way that really works. That’s how we take those tiny steps forward toward the best version of ourselves.