When I started writing this blog in 2003, I was not a strong writer. Sixteen years later, I am a better writer. Doing something every day is the best way to improve at something.
I’ve been doing yoga for roughly the same number of years as I’ve been writing this blog. But I am not as religious about yoga as I am about writing.
For the last two weeks, I’ve been doing the exact same yoga practice (the Mysore style) three mornings a week and today I noticed that I was able to do some things I could not do before.
I have a long way to go before I can do yoga the way that most of the people in the yoga studio with me can do it, but the mere fact that I am noticeably improving gives me great satisfaction.
Practice means doing something again and again in an effort to improve. But it also means a way of doing something (a law practice). The two are really the same thing. A lawyer who has been practicing law for thirty years is likely a better lawyer than someone who is right out of law school.
It is easy to watch a basketball player like Steph Curry hit three pointer after three pointer and think “that is raw talent” and surely that is true. But it is also true that he has probably practiced those shots for endless hours in the gym perfecting the shot and stroke.
I think everyone can improve at things they are not good at and become competent, even excellent, at them. I am not going to win a Pulitzer Prize, but I can write well and have become a strong communicator by practicing it routinely. Practice really works.
Been doing yoga for around 5-6 years now. My change this summer is to do it every day on my own. Turn it into a discipline integrated to my life. I love my studio classes and appreciate my instructor a lot. But until I take the next step I am holding myself back.
Mysore is a great way to develop a practice that you can do on your own. Give it a try
Sure. And Chicago is a deep dish pizza.
Each has its own place. Self-guided is different because you’re having to engage your mind – unless that is you’re following audio/video class at home. At the peak of my yoga practice before pain took over my life, I had only done a few advanced classes – they were amazing, and the automatic flow you started to get into allowing your mind to completely disconnect from control was magical. Most yoga people do is simply fitness, where it is primarily asana practices – even though there are 8 branches of yoga, asana/physical movement only being one branch; meditation, self-study, group study, etc are other layers or branches that are mostly ignored.
What’s amazing about your writing Fred is that it illuminates. It’s chock full of real insights that go beyond the words. Thank you!
You’re being modest Fred!You can frame a thought and tell a story better than most.Personally–biggest struggle and greatest improvement with massive upside for me over the last few years with dogged practice has been meditation. Life changer.
Meditation “frame a thought” can be Plato’s cave if the mindset does not change
what are you trying to say–this is not clear.
With practice anyone can be a saw bones looking out side the cave wall takes a very different ingredient …
I’ve been blogging since 2007, and some years ago made it a six-day-a-week practice. You’re right; nothing like writing to make you a better writer.
I’ve been taking guitar lessons for many years with a real virtuoso as my teacher. He always tells me that nothing gets him more angry than when a students says “I wish I had your talent.” He always replies with “Do you know how hard I’ve worked to get this ‘talent’? Do you know how many hours it’s taken? Yes, I it’s mostly a labor of love, but that doesn’t mean the love doesn’t involve serious labor.” I completely agree with his point, and yours, Fred, that what many think of as natural talent is really more about hard work. Lots has been written about this of course, but it’s a message worth repeating.
Are you a virtuoso now too?
I’d worry about anyone who answered a question like this with “Yes, absolutely.” So instead I’ll say that I’m trying hard to put in my time, and when I do the results come. Like everything else in life . . . .I know how important it is to keep politics out of these discussions. So I swear I’m not making a political point here, or expressing support for any candidate. And I really hope pointing this out doesn’t trigger political debate. But can I just note how well Elisabeth Warren’s campaign slogan fits in with the point we’re making here? “DREAM BIG. FIGHT HARD.” Yup. That about sums it up.
Reading this blog has served as an inspiration in enhancing my communication skills. Thank you.Also, I wonder how many of us have become better communicators by commenting here?
Great point, Donna !There is certainly “the Art of the Comment”.Knowing when to comment at all vs when to leave the topic to others might be the most impactful part.
Well said. Precisely the reason I find myself just moving along on some days.
Admittedly, that took a few years.Although, for a while (and occasionally, still) commenting was partly social.
It is exciting and encouraging to discover that learning and growth can continue for a lifetime.This sets people apart.
Reminds me of the actor Willem Dafoe, who repeats a phrase with a grin on a documentary about Vinyasa Yoga — “Mysore…My sore yoga”
In the groove.
A super interesting thing about this particular instance of Practice (Fred’s blogging), is that it’s easily measurable over time, by clicking around in the archives: https://avc.com/archive/#mo…One can see the evolution over 16 years in ability, style, voice, topics, and it’s also notable to see how all of that evolves once the comment section appears, grows etc, because that element changes the blog from a broadcast to a conversation setting.
Wear and tear is a price to pay in all sports beit yoga or boxing as we generally push the envelope. Trust me it is a bitch that comes with timelines
JLM Thanks “The longest period of time known to mankind is three three minute rounds in the ring”Love boxing and the odd MMA fighter “Jon Jones” might be wrong but think you know the three minute round are heath and safety imposed, in the UK still many bare knuckle pikey fights take place to agreed rules. Personally my elbow and shoulder pays the price for years of pad work would I have wanted to be Ali and die younger than my current timeline For Sure : )
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”. These lines are particularly appropriate because, beside the message they contain, the lines themselves are a wonderful example of elegant writing.These lines are frequently misattributed to Aristotle. In fact, Will Durant wrote them in “The Story of Philosophy”, in the portion on Aristotle, in the sub-section “Ethics and the Nature of Happiness”. Durant is jumping between Aristotle’s words and his own..and these words are entirely Durant’s.And, if you skipped that page of the book, but you have read a lot of Will and Ariel Durant, and somebody says that is Durant and not Aristotle, you will quickly go — yup, this is exactly the kind of sentence Will Durant would write.Which, I suppose, leads to the other aspect to improving one’s writing besides consistent practice. And that is – Reading good writers.
There was a day when every man women and even child in the US could write well. Modern music hits its zenith in the 1900s, and writing was owned by the 1800s.After 18 years of schooling, the fact that we have to practice to improve our writing is a sad testimony to modern schooling.NYC schooling fell off a cliff in the 70s. California’s schooling in the 80s.It’s 2020 and we are still debating whether it’s the school system. (Sadly the educational leaders blame it on the color of the students!)
Steph Curry has a class on MasterClass where he talks a lot about practice (putting a penny in the jar every day)…he points out that he didn’t really have much raw talent (he couldn’t even make his school team when he was young, but dedicated one full summer to constant and dedicated practice to get better and make the team — which he did).Anyway – it’s a great MasterClass even if you aren’t looking to get good at basketball (I actually like all the classes just for seeing true pros talk about how they approach their craft — dedicated practice and constant play/experimentation is a common thread throughout them — I ask for the unlimited subscription every year as my Christmas present).
I have learned that practice makes perfect with real results, achieving things that may not sound real. I achieved that in the the most routine, simple sounding eating habit, that is chewing.10 years ago, around the fall of 2009, I came across an article on Yahoo health ( yes, it was still a thing then) on the benefits of chewing. It meant chewing the food until the food reaches the consistency of applesauce. Sounds simple, I thought at the time. It took me about 28 days to make that a habit, one that I do not think about.Positive achievements was eating much less than before and quickly losing weight, around 2.5 lbs a month until my weight was stabilized. I lost about 18 lbs just by adding the habit of chewing well and have stayed in +/- 2 lbs of the weight since 2009.Having the first hand experience of the practice makes perfect, I have gained motivation for practice to achieve my goals professionally as well 🙂
FRED:We had posted this before and will continue to say it again.You have a New York Times Best selling business book in you that has already had an outline which is this blog.We have no idea why you refuse to put it together.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT
you know, i have to tell you that when i was writing that comment, self-mocking with the term “obvious”, your “Captain Obvious” sign-off that you always use popped into my head. Thanks for that.
This post is super. The only thing annoying me (cos of my English-ness) is the lack of distinction between practice and practise. I suppose y’all Americans just celebrated Independence day, giving you the freedom to write how you want to write. Keep practicing Fred. Nice blog you have built here.
You are a very good writer, which is what attracted me to your blog in the first place.
Right on. One of my favorite books (read a few months ago) is about the idea of “practice”: The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner. Very short and profound book. I read it as I started to learn piano / reading music and it is very much in the spirit of your post.From the inside flap:”In his study of how we learn (prompted by his pursuit of disciplines such as music and golf), Sterner has found that we have also forgotten the principles of practice — the process of picking a goal and applying steady effort to reach it. The methods Sterner teaches show that practice done properly isn’t drudgery on the way to mastery but a fulfilling process in and of itself, one that builds discipline and clarity.By focusing on ‘process, not product,’ you’ll learn to live in each moment, where you’ll find calmness and equanimity. This book will transform a sense of futility around learning something challenging into an attitude of pleasure and willingness.”
Hello from a recovering VC and fellow ashtanga warrior. Are you doing lots of inversions?
Enjoyed and Enjoying your writing for the past 12-13 years. thank you very much for the same.There is a say in my mother tongue (tamil) which translates to ….Drawing comes by practice of handsandLanguage comes by practice of speaking.BTW, I lived in Mysore (2008-2015) and never knew there is a Mysore Style Yoga.There is a say for this as well in my mother tongue… :-)Though frog lives in the same pond as lotus it never knew the beauty of Lotus. :-).Keep writing and learn more style and Make Us learn.,
Thanks for another great post! I appreciate the yoga story, especially. I have been “practicing yoga” without much regularity and did not see much progress through the years until recently when I started swimming. When different activities share overlapping skillsets, practicing one can also bring improvement to the other. In this case, my new swimming practice strengthened my core which enabled me to improve my yoga poses. Seeing incremental improvement is very satisfying. 🙂
16 (years) x 365 (days) x @30 minutes < 10,000 hours.Your Persistence Prize awaits.
“A black belt is a white belt that never quit” Sensai Mark Tome, my son’s karate teacher
and likewise all of our commenting here in the peanut gallery can also be observed per time axis, using Disqus.Mine certainly vary widely between redundant, obvious, prosaic– with occasional flashes of accidental brilliance of course.Seriously, one thing that’s always intrigued me is some of the comments i’ve written that i thought would be well-received were actually ignored, and others I almost didn’t leave were my most-upvoted. I have found this a valuable ongoing experiment, and key AVC takeaway.
Have you wondered why it is called Plato’s cave and not Socrates’ cave ?I asked that question many years back, partly in jest but partly to wonder if the terminology “stuck” because Plato’s cave is easier to pronounce than Socrates’ cave.And then last week I was listening to a lecture on philosophy and the professor kept referring to it as Socrates’ cave or the cave of Socrates.It is of course firmly established now as Plato’s cave.