When my children have started out on a new venture, whether it be learning to ride a bike, conquering a new math skill, or trying to make the team of the sport they are interested in; I have always preached the old saying “Practice makes Perfect”. My son is somewhat of a perfectionist. He wants to be the very best and gets discouraged easily and quickly when he is trying something new and can’t do it well. I tell him, he was not born knowing how to do this….no one was…and the ones that are good at this have spent some significant time doing it over and over. When they were tired of it…. they kept doing it, when they were sick of it…they kept doing it, when they never wanted to see it again….they kept doing it. As a result, they are great and accomplished at what they do. That is how professionals are made. That’s how experts are made. Professional athletes have spent countless hours investing in their skills. They have faced and over came many failures and obstacle and have stuck it out.
Nothing in this life is given freely. When I first got my Real Estate license, I remember having to convince myself I was a Realtor. I know that may sound silly, but I remember telling myself over and over, I am a Realtor and selling houses is what I do. Convincing myself I was, that I could do it, and that I would do it. I remember getting to the point where I didn’t really care if I made a whole career out of it, but I was determined to sale a house, just ONE house. If I could get my first house closed, I could prove to myself I could it. That was my first real estate goal. I have since raised my goals and am now the top producing agent in my office and among the top producers in my area. Becoming a successful Realtor didn’t come without it’s share of frustration, anger at times, disappointment, MORE disappointment, wondering if I had what it takes to become one of the best, deals falling apart at the last minute, being cussed out a few times by unhappy clients, lots of nights and weekends spent working instead of playing, sacrifice, and plenty of times of wanting to quit along the way. But, it did happen.
So you get my point, practice makes perfect. When we pursue something enough it goes from being what we do to being who we are, what we are known for. It becomes a part of us. When you think of a basketball legend, I probably don’t come to mind, however Michael Jordan may. When you think of the greatest in golf, you probably don’t say….hey that girl that blogs…I bet she’s good a golf. No, you would think of Tiger Woods or Phil Michelson. Michael Jordan will always be known as a great basketball player and Tiger Woods a great golfer because they pursued something that became a part of who they are.
In this same way of practicing or pursuing to become better, we can apply the same principles to our own character. Have you ever thought about practicing being happy? Sounds silly, again…right? Well, when you decide to be a happier person the world doesn’t magically change to never give you a reason to be unhappy. You simply have to determine to be happy no matter what. You practice happiness, and sometimes you fail at it. Nothing comes without some sort of opposition. The more you practice being happier the better at it you become.
What about forgiveness, patience, being kinder, loving more, trusting others, giving where you see a need, smiling, doing random acts of kindness, making someone’s day better, growing in your faith, and being an all together better person? We don’t always look at these character traits as something we can practice, but they are. We fall prey to the thoughts of “this is just who I am” without considering the option that we can change and becoming better.
As my kids jump out of the car in the mornings heading into the school building, I don’t just say, “be kind today” or “be nice today” or “work hard today”. Instead of some general statement where it is kind of vague of what to do, I give them goals and an idea or two of how do be kind, nice, or work hard. Such as, compliment 3 people today and tell me how many smile back at you. Make sure you tell you teacher you think she’s doing a good job today. If you see someone all alone on the playground or at a lunch table, go sit with them and introduce yourself. Give a high five to four people and say “you’re awesome”. Tell a joke and make someone laugh. They started looking forward to making sure they meet these goals, it was the first thing they talked about when I picked them up in the afternoons. They starting coming up with ideas of their own of how to be better or make someone else’s day better. I am teaching them to practice niceness, kindness, etc, or at least attempting to. Even took the challenges myself, and it sure does make my day better.
What you practice, grows. If you do something repeatedly you get better at it. Goes for the good and the bad. You practice patience, you get better at being patient. You practice anger, you get better at being angry and you’ll perfect it to the point that the least little thing will push you into anger. You practice showing love, you get to where your first response to anything will be in love. Truth is we may have tendencies or personalities that lean toward one character trait than another, but when it all boils down to it, we choose who we are. We choose what we are good at. We choose what we practice.
Practice makes perfect, practice the good things.