After his teammates wrapped up practice each day, David Beckham famously stayed after training to work on his trademark free kicks. He knew he could best contribute to his team’s success by delivering the ball into a precise area of the field with remarkable consistency when the stakes were highest. He got so good at it that it inspired the movie, Bend It Like Beckham.
That’s what pros do: they don’t just practice. They select a practice that is relevant to the contribution they want to make.
Essential people do the same. They know the harmful habit they’re prone to slip into. They’ve chosen a positive character trait that they want to cultivate in its place. Now they go the next step, choosing a practice relevant to that character trait.
So if my habit of hurry makes it nearly impossible to be present and patient with those around me, I won’t find ways to optimize my haste. Instead, I might choose a practice that forces me to slow down, to notice the people and environment around me. I might drive the speed limit or cook a very slow meal once a week or sit in silence for 5 minutes each day. I might walk the same route around my house each day, noticing what has changed in minute ways as the days and seasons pass.