Close up of of person practicing piano

A tourist new to Manhattan stopped a balding, white haired gentleman who carried a violin case, and asked, “Sir, what’s the best way to get to Carnegie Hall? 

“My son,” said world-famous violinist, Jascha Heifetz, “there is only one way to get to Carnegie Hall.  Practice, practice, practice!”

Practice leads to mastery, and success. 

A survey of research findings by K. Anders Ericcson and Neil Charness showed that long-term, deliberate practice is the key to top performance in almost any field.

“The master is the one who stays on the mat five minutes longer than anybody else,” asserts an Aikido saying. 

Still, many of us hate practice. We don’t want to do it.  We read books, scan articles, listen to podcasts, and follow pontificating Instagram celebs. Anything but practice!

But research cited by systems expert, Fritjof Capra, shows that, after two weeks we remember only 10% cent of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 50% of what we discuss, and 90% of what we experience—i.e. practice.

Man at a golf driving range, hitting balls into nets. Behind the nets, a calm ocean, and partly sunny, blue sky with a few grey moulds. A sunburst appears under the golfers upraised left arm

Building Skill, Confidence, and Courage

The dictionary defines skill as “practiced ability.”  

Practice connects our head, hands and heart. It sharpens skills, increases flexibility and power, and leads to deeper understanding and competence.  From competence comes authentic confidence, and the courage to stretch, grow and succeed.  

In my Creating What Matters coaching program, I usually know by the second session who will produce results and who won’t. Those who do the suggested practice almost always produce results. Those who don’t, do not. 

Sadly, many people persist in thinking that if they “know about” something it is the same as “knowing how to do it.”  It is not. 

When I ask those who eschew practice, “Why?” they say they don’t have time, or don’t like doing “homework,” or they do it in their heads.  

“If you want to master the skills of skiing, piano, yoga …,” I ask, “would you do it in your head?”

“No.”

“How would you learn to do those things?”

“Hmm? Practice…?” 

At the end of my programs, those who practice diligently, and engage their heart and hands as well as their heads, often say the work changed their lives, and careers. 

Those who didn’t practice, and just thought about the ideas tend to say, “It was interesting, but didn’t do much for me.  Just more goal-setting.” 

Those who practice the most create the best results, and are happiest with them.

Technique To Burn

Practice may not make you perfect, but it will develop the technique necessary to act on your goals, and bring them into being—independent of circumstances and difficulties. 

Improvisational violinist and creativity expert, Stephen Nachmanovitch says, “Not only is practice necessary to art, it is art.”  

Freedom, in music and life, he says lies in, developing “technique to burn.” 

So, if you want to get to your version of Carnegie Hall, “Practice, practice, practice!”