Or at least ineffectively.
"Practice makes perfect" people will tell us. What they don't tell you is that the phrase should probably be "Right practice gets us progress".
Perfect doesn't exist. Especially when trying to get better at things. I suggest you throw it out of your vocab.
Also – you can't just practice for the sake of practicing. The system behind it matters immensely. How do you know if you're practicing correctly? How can you get better? How can you get more effective?
You won't get answers to that without a system (psst: I'll give you that system below).
There Is A Right Way To Practice Anything
What do I mean by right?
I mean that for anything that you practice – doesn't matter what it is. There exists a step-by-step formula that virtually guarantees that you'll improve, quickly.
Sounds too good to be true right? Well, it is true.
But What About Mistakes??
That's why I don't like the phrase "practice makes perfect". People interpret that phrase as "I should expect perfection when I practice." which is illogical.
We need mistakes. If you were right ALL the time. There would be no learning.
The more you practice something, the more mistakes you WILL make. If you don't have a system in place for improving – you'll miss out on potential 10x gains.
People who avoid making mistakes avoid making progress! (Justin Sung)
Let me introduce you to someone very special...
Meet Dr. David Kolb
Dr. Kolb is the creator of the "Experiential Learning Cycle"
This learning cycle essentially represents the steps that a "learner" goes through whenever they undergo the process of learning.
“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984, p. 38).
The 4 Steps That Will 10x Your Results
The 4 steps at a high level are Experience, Reflection, Abstraction, and Experimentation.
- Experience: a positive or negative experience you have had
- Reflection: reflect on the experience above with as much detail as possible
- Abstraction: what are the trends/patterns you notice in your reflection?
- Experimentation: create a basic experiment to improve on the things we abstracted.
Each step flows into the next.
Step 1: Experience
This should be simple.
Briefly outline an experience that you have had. Make a brief note about whether it was good or bad or in between.
Example: I had an argument today with my brother which I wanted to avoid.
These experiences can be anything to do with your behaviour or anything else you want to change.
A more personal example of an experience:
Step 2: Reflection
Expand upon the experience. Add as much detail as possible.
Consider answering the following questions to help you:
Questions To Ask Yourself (courtesy of icanstudy.com)
• How did you feel?
• When did you feel this way?
• If you struggled, at what points? Were there any triggers?
• How did you react?
• How did others react?
• Were there any factors that might have affected your experience before the experience? For example, perhaps you were tired, or it was during a stressful period.
• What did you do at each step? Try to draw out a step-by-step recount or chronology of events.
• How did you respond to difficulty or struggle?
• How did you feel before, during and after the event?
A personal example:
Let me share with you a personal reflection I have done in the past to show you the level of detail to aim for.
There was some moment when I could feel that my brain or mind was running up against some resistance. At that point, I started to feel overwhelmed and a bit antsy. It was a micro-panic. Where I couldn’t get what I wanted to get — immediately.
I felt this way after completing some studying and thinking about how to start a business in Canada. My mind was a bit overwhelmed with the whole prospect and I was having a hard time finding one place to start. At that point, I left my office and walked to the living room and turned on the TV. Shortly thereafter — I had the thought that I should order food. I went back to my computer and very quickly went to skipthedishes.com and ordered a pizza. I went back to the couch and continued watching the movie.
During my studying — I felt distracted and unwilling to sit through the lectures and practice the techniques. The same feeling of overwhelm and avoidance occurred when encountering the different projects that are due this following week.
Instead of starting — I avoided the matter — procrastinated it away. The reaction to the feeling of discomfort was avoidance. I don’t want to feel this way — my ego at least — and so there seems to be a very natural process where I go and distract myself from facing these challenges. A lot of rationalization-type thoughts appear to me as well — like “maybe you’re just not interested” and “this isn’t where you want to go in life — so why learn it?” when those are just misleading thoughts that actually do not represent the nature of what I wish to learn. The topics, subjects, and challenges are not the problem — resistance is.
At that point — I think I was a bit hungry. Not that tired as it was the morning and I had slept well. I was at home at this point. I didn’t really connect with any friends at this point either. I remember trying to think of ways to start with the business idea. Is it a business model canvas? No — a prototype? NO — customer interviews? ERROR ERROR. The next thing I knew the very natural next step presented itself — avoidance. And so almost like slowly sliding down a hill, I made my way out of the office — stopped thinking about the topic — and turned on the TV and scrolled on my phone.
I didn’t go back to the office that day.
As you can see, it's pretty long and pretty deep. You should aim for the same level.
It's important for depth because we'll need as much detail to abstract upon in the next step.
Step 3: Abstraction
This step is essentially asking ourselves "why" things happened the way they happened in your reflection. You may have already done this – if so then great!
We just need to focus on generalized, transferable, and "abstracted" reasons as to why we experienced those things.
Questions To Ask Yourself
• How do I tend to act in these kinds of situations?
• What about my approach or perspective or overall strategy made me prone to making this error?
• Do I make similar mistakes in other areas as well?
• What habits do I seem to have in certain types of situations that make me behave, react or act in this way?
For the longest time, I have employed the avoidance strategy. It is very effective but I know it isn’t actually good for me. A challenge or a series of challenges arise and I feel overwhelmed → then my brain presents the option to escape.
There was no intention around that time block. No schedule. No plan. My mind at that point didn’t exactly have a defined problem to solve. It was simply floating around — trying? Like how you might churn butter. It was simply cycling in one spot with a momentary idea but no real action.
I have also felt this way when it comes to relationships. When tough times arise and I might misspeak or someone does something. In the past, I would practice extreme avoidance. I would keep people away, and stop speaking with them. I have done this with many people. Instead of biting the bullet and apologizing or making amends up front — I would avoid the situation entirely. Righteous indignation. Nasty stuff.
The habit of not scheduling time. The habit of not having an intention. The habit of avoiding difficult emotions. The habit of escaping.
Step 4: Experimentation
Think about simple experiments that you can conduct to solve this issue!
Expect failure! That means you're learning. When you do fail, make sure to inquire into the "why?"
I will time-block my whole day. There won’t be a minute where my mind shouldn’t be clear as to what it’s meant to be working on. If the activity has not been time blocked — it shouldn’t be done.
If I feel overwhelmed, I will immediately go outside and touch grass and do some emergency breathing and will remind myself of this new experiment for the following time block.
At the beginning of each time block, I will ask myself what exact problem we want to solve. Sort by Values. And set out an MVG to get started.
In Sum: The Kolbs Cycle
Really give this stuff a try.
Structured reflection is one of, if not the most, beneficial activities you can engage in.
If you can do this daily... Each morning – and have an experiment you can try for just the remainder of the day. You'll be guaranteed to get at least 1% better. Guaranteed.
Don't leave success to chance. Leave it to your system.