What is the best advice you’ll ever get on how to be the become your best you?
First, the Backstory
I’ve been gone for the last 6 days on a trip to Los Angeles. My daughter got accepted to a gap year program there and her aunt and I took her down to check out the school. The first morning parents were invited to stick around, take in a chapel service, get the tour, and get our questions answered. Then we got to hang out and do our thing in LA for the weekend while she got more of the school experience.
The messages we heard both in that Thursday morning chapel and at their Sunday morning church service have been bouncing around in my head since I heard them, so that’s what I want to share with you this week.
The program is the Dream Center Leadership School, and Thursday’s chapel is the one where they focus on leadership. So in the context of becoming a leader, a woman named Venice spoke about how you develop those skills and become the leader you are wanting to be.
So What Is It?
How do I get there? To becoming the best whatever I want to be?
I know. I know. It sounds like a no-brainer. But have you really thought about practice in terms of reaching your goals for you? This is why the message has been sticking in my head – it applies to anything we are working on. Simply, it’s just a new way of looking at how to get good at something. A different approach to building whatever skill it is you want present in your life.
Our kids go to practice for their sports, where they drill and learn and develop skills. They take music lessons and practice their songs, going over and over them. What if I looked at my goals, whatever they are, as needing practice to achieve?
I want to talk about how practice is key to doing or becoming anything worthwhile.
How Do We Practice?
Practicing something involves picturing the goal, breaking down the steps it takes to get there, and then doing those things, over and over again.
When I was playing basketball, we practiced lots of skills and plays, but what sticks out are the foul shots. We were encouraged to put in extra time outside of team practices, to shoot. And shoot, and shoot. We had to understand the essentials of the shot, figure out what routine we were going to use, and put in the hours of doing it over and over until it became embedded in our muscle memory. Why this matters is because you are practicing in a non-stressful situation. When the stress hits, and you’re in a game situation, you KNOW what to do. Because you’ve put yourself in the situation and practiced it.
Practice in non-stressful times, and you will do it right when the crisis comes.
Practice also helps you build on skills. My daughter practiced piano for years – I am happy I survived that. Seriously, it was often painful. I am also super happy that she can now sit down and play and accompany her beautiful voice. She would be assigned some songs, which she would practice – going over and over them, fixing mistakes until she had them mastered. THEN – she would be assigned more difficult pieces.
As you master each level or small step, you can grow your skills and built on them.
What About The Stuff In Your Head?
Practicing makes sense to us for things that you can schedule, like sports or music. But what about the things that are our responses? How do we practice those?
- Practicing can apply to things like saying no to personal habits you want to change (like snacking after 8 pm). You know you want to, but tell yourself your are practicing, and that it will get easier to say no.
- It can also apply to relationships, like practicing calmer responses to a child’s behaviour. Think about your ideal response, and practice it all the time (be aware of it!) when your stress is low. Then when you are at the end of your rope, you will have the right reflex reactions in your heart and brain.
- It can apply to spiritual habits like spending time praying or reading the Bible – schedule them in like you would with piano practice!
What about the intangible things like trust? It works for those, too. What does it mean to trust? In this instance it means having faith in God for the outcome and choosing not to worry. Doing what you can and need to, and trusting God with the rest.
A couple weeks ago there was a ruling on a court case here that had implications for the whole province regarding what schools parents could send their children to. There are two main school system here – Catholic and Public. There are lots of students who are not Catholics attending the Catholic schools, and this ruling, based on an issue in a small town, now threatened that. Our son is starting Kindergarten in the fall and the school we chose to register him in is a Catholic school. In our opinion it was the best school among our choices. So this ruling would affect us, too, as our church is not a Catholic church.
There was lots of talk and worry and outcry, but I chose to let it play out and deal with what came down when all was decided. And not even two weeks later, the government has said they would protect the rights of parents to choose. Schooling is a big deal, but I knew God would go with us and protect and provide no matter what. So I chose not to stress over it. I chose to practice trust.
Practicing trust in minor issues makes it easier to trust God in bigger issues, and practicing it then makes even the biggest challenges in life bearable because you know how to trust. You’ve had practice.
Practice is the key to doing or becoming anything worthwhile. How can you apply it to reaching your goals?
Become Your Best You
When I think of my best me, I think of me being fully who God made me to be. Living out my potential, using the gifts and talents he created in me. But that also sounds like a bunch of overused phrases that don’t mean anything – what does it really look like? A great exercise is to imagine the ‘you’ you want to be. To set goals to achieve that ‘you’. And then practice being that. Break hard things down into their parts. Take small steps. Do it over and over and over. If you’ve got goals set, you’ll be able to evaluate and see the results. Take a minute now to think of the one or two things you want to start practicing today.
And then comment with what you chose? I’ll go first: Limiting snacking in the evening to 2 nights a week, and longer term planning for social media posts and shop promotion for my Alice&Victor shop.
Have a great week!