There are several common phrases about ‘practice’. We suggest that people ‘practise what they preach’, or sometimes say that ‘practice makes perfect’. When I was young, I was confused that doctors practised medicine – I’d rather that they’d finished practising before they tried out their skills on me! A client of mine recently said that she had seen a quote which really helped her – ‘practice makes progress, not perfect’ and I remembered how elegantly the dancer Martha Graham expressed her thoughts on practice:
“Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”
So how does practice invite perfection? And is there any difference in between something like a daily practice of gratitude versus piano practice? My client and I discussed this and decided that whichever kind of practice we were speaking of, it was all down to the reason we’d chosen to practise. What is our intention? If we have a clear aim in mind, an understanding of why we want to practice, and are deliberately building practice into our schedule, we are saying ‘actually, I am seeking perfection in this area’, whatever the kind of practice. Martha Graham also acknowledges that practice isn’t always easy: we may need to keep going in the face of difficulty or initial rejection. She states too that it only ‘invites’ perfection; it doesn’t guarantee it.
Another quote I heard about practice is this:
“You can’t hire someone to practise for you.”
True, isn’t it? Much as we might like to, we can’t get someone else to rehearse our presentation, role play interviews or swim those lengths for us. A closer look at those whom we regard as having natural talent often reveals that they spend hours practising their art/work/sport. Practice is all about us taking responsibility for our own learning and development.
Today’s pebble for you to contemplate: what do you need to practise? How can you do so in such a way as to invite perfection?
What do you think?