On the frustration that is sometimes known as practice
Common phrases heard around the word "practice."
Practice makes perfect.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
The word itself has always elicited a full spectrum of emotion from me. Positive, negative, indifferent!
I often refer to the tennis court as my happy place. Or the spot in my home where I practice singing as my happy place. And most of the time, that is true. And sometimes.....ugh!!
I was on the tennis court playing doubles on a recent Thursday morning. My partner, who is also a musician, was having issues with her serve. She's usually spot on, but that particular day, it just wasn't working for her. I had the insight to frame her serving crisis into something positive. It struck me-- I've experienced this in music so many times before. You reach a certain level of mastery and then without explanation, it falls apart.
You practiced your fingers off yesterday, you had it and today-- it's like you've never seen the music! I tried to encourage my friend. "This is just like practicing! Your serve isn't working today because big picture, it's growing, it's improving, it's just getting better!!"
In her moment of frustration, I think she may have thought me crazy. But I understand, as I've been a "victim" of serving crises myself. And if someone had uttered those words to me, I would have at a minimum, rolled my eyes in their direction. I've served a lot of balls not into the correct box on the tennis court.....not even into the proper side of the court.......more times than I care to comment.....on my way to becoming a much more consistent player.
These days I'm happily amazed when people look at me and say, "great serve!" If only they knew that said serve was hard won. So many repetitions, so much practice. Not just while playing others, but also alone on the court, serving over and over and over. Indeed, sometimes practice looks like a hot mess. It can look like we're actually getting worse!
I'll leave you with these inspiring words by author David Richo that I happened across last night. "It is not that practice makes perfect but that practice is perfect, combining effort with an openness to grace."
If you love what you're doing, just keep showing up.