Our Practice

Personal Growth

In my first-ever yoga class, I remember the instructor referring to the session as our practice. I now realize that this is common, but at the time, it stood out to me. As a beginner, it made me feel welcome. So much power in the subtly of those words. I wasn't coming to the class and expecting to leave as an expert. I wanted to give yoga a try and leave equipped with more experience than when I entered.

As a participant and spectator of growth, I find it all too easy to fall into the trap of framing our growth areas as a skill we must master in a finite amount of time.

We declare that we need to:

  • Be confident
  • Be a better listener
  • Trust others
  • Let go of past mistakes
  • Be honest

Maybe Amazon's influence on our culture plays a role? We know we can order a pack of Gatorade today and have it in time for our workout tomorrow. We get what we want when we want it. If I recognize that I need this skill, I can attain it soon, right? 

We end up working on our weaknesses focused only the outcome. We forget about the journey. We get frustrated when our package doesn't come as quickly as we hoped. Pressure builds. This mindset leads to anxiety and inaction.

Growth suddenly looks impossible. Becoming a better listener now feels like climbing El Capitan with no equipment. We can see the top, but we can't make out the trail. We get anxious at the thought of exploring unknown territory. It feels better not to worry, so we choose not to act.

The truth is that we can't expect change overnight. Alex Honnold didn't decide to climb El Capitan on Monday and get it done on Tuesday. He put in the preparation. He put in the practice.

"I talk about how much preparation goes into it, and how you take something that starts out totally crazy and impossible and turn it into something that is not only possible and likely but inevitable.” (Alex Honnold)

Our growth areas will always be a work-in-progress. Even when we progress, there will be days when we regress. Weeks. Months. Years. We have to stumble to get up again. Fail to learn, learn to grow. Even when we reach the top, we set our sights on the next climb.

Much like my yoga experience, we are all beginners in one way or another. I know I can't be perfect every day. I know that I can't expect to order a new strength for next-day delivery. However, I do know that I can practice.

By reframing our ambitions, we remind ourselves of what is important, showing up daily and giving them our best shot. We can declare to:

  • Practice confidence
  • Practice active listening
  • Practice trusting others
  • Practice letting go
  • Practice honesty

Our growth areas become our practice. What doesn't get better with practice?

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