On the Road to Mastery

I haven’t come across too many people who aren’t doing something that interest them but does not come naturally. Frankly, even if the thing does come naturally, there are still new heights to learn and develop. Practice is something that we all engage in no matter what stage we are in our development.

Your practice could be just about anything including going to the gym, practicing yoga, cooking, martial arts, writing, coding, gardening, and so much more. Anything that is of interest to you that you seek to get better at becomes fair game for establishing a practice.

And there you have it…“Establishing a practice”. The very definition of the word “practice” means to rehearse a behavior or activity consistently in order to improve and eventually master. We cultivate the very thing that is important to us so that we can reap the benefits of the practice (e.g. better-tasting food or error-free code).

For many of us, including myself, we have a troubling relationship with practice. Sometimes we are doing great and having a great time. Then there are times where we are avoiding practice by cheating on her with other more important things like [fill in the blank]. Our relationship with practice has various ups and downs. When we are up we are loving life but when we are down, the guilt of avoiding practice eats us up.

How to solve the drop-offs in our practice:

The valley can be a dangerous place for many reasons but the most important among them is it can lead to the abandonment of your practice. Remember, we are engaging in this practice because we find fulfillment in the activity or its outcome. To abandon this would mean we are giving up on our aspirations, hopes, and dreams. And a heart without hope comes a dark and cold place, void of the beauty of life.

So for this reason, we must learn to turn the valley from a negative into a positive by employing the following three-part strategy.

#1 – We must commit to the practice itself.

When tough times arise, usually the first thing to go are the expendables. This usually ends up being your practice.

Your practice is not expendable. 

It is essential to your emotional, physical, and social well-being. So instead of abandoning your practice, you can employ the minimum practice that you need to continue your development and achieve fulfillment.

This means you are still consistent in your practice because you’ve made a commitment to yourself and we honor all commitments we make, especially those we make to and for ourselves.

#2 – We must plan for the valley by establishing a minimum practice.

The absolute truth that we must face is that life is anything but predictable. Things happen all of the time that causes our plans to change. Current world events – COVID-19 – is a prime example of this truth.

Yet, since we know this, we have the ability to plan for when things are not optimal. When they are optimal, we can engage in our practice without issues, for the length or quantity that we need. However, when life shares with us challenges and circumstances that require more of us, then we must have a minimum practice that we can engage in to continue our pursuits.

The benefits of establishing a minimum practice are:

  • We don’t abandon the development and fulfillment that the practice gives us
  • We are able to combat against the limiting beliefs that are revealed in difficult situations
  • We are able to focus on the quality of our practice vs the length of time
  • Our practice meets us where we are physically and emotionally

The intent around a minimum practice is to continue our practices that bring forth attributes of being that out weights the attributes of doing. Which, by the way, actually strengthens the results of our practice. So, even though a minimum practice isn’t the full expression of your practice is focuses on the key component which is the way of being.

#3 – We must establish a way into your practice

Sustaining a practice means that we must learn to face ourselves – good, bad, and ugly…especially the bad and ugly. 

The difficult part of any practice is actually getting started. It’s not the middle and certainly not the end of the practice but determining in your mind and heart to start the practice. And this doesn’t happen only when we are beginning a new practice but every time we are about to engage in our established practice.

Like everything else, we have a choice. We can choose to lean into or away from our practice (remember when I talked about our relationship with practice above?) We can choose to listen to the voice that makes the practice a grandiose task or belittles its importance…or we can listen to the empowering voice that supports our fulfillment.

In order to lean in we must find a way in.
 This could be anything that catapults us into our practice. This may be a somatic gesture like clapping your hands or bouncing up and down. It could be turning on your favorite song that puts you into the mood. It could be the battle cry that you bellow from the depts of your lungs.

Whatever it may be, find and use it as your way into your practice. 

Your practice is an expression of who you are and what brings you fulfillment and joy. Your practice leads to mastery and it is on this road where you find joy, gratitude, self-express, resilience, and faith.

These discoveries should never be compromised when life becomes difficult. On this road and through life’s difficulties is where we learn to face ourselves to become better versions of ourselves.