Saturday, November 24, 2012

the mastery-confidence-joy cycle

when my children were small we had a grand collection of videos.  animated fairy tales, fables and stories were favorites, and often played on our television in the family room.  the swan princess fell somewhere in the top ten, and every time it played, I would smile when the song practice, practice, practice came on.  it became my standard response when any child would ask how I became so good at drawing straight lines, cutting out circles, baking perfect cookies, all of those things we parents do . . . practice, practice, practice.
I would sing it, the kids would cover their ears and say stop mom, I know.
then it became how do you ever get good at math?  how do I get better at piano?  how can I be better at lacrosse?  how will I ever learn to drive a  manual transmission?
practice, practice, practice.

and here's the thing:  we practice, we practice some more, we practice again and again and one day we realize that we have gained some bit of mastery.

I love cornering.
I love being confident going into a curve, leaning into it, swooping around and down descents.  I am not the world's best corner-er, but I have mastered it for my level of cycling ability, and I love it.

I love writing and editing.  I love tinkering with words, fixing sentences, assessing and creating new ways to make something more readable.  I'm not the world's best editor or writer, but I'm pretty darn good and find great pleasure in both tasks . . . I've gained some mastery over the written word, and I love it.

when we gain this mastery, we feel confidence in our actions--whatever they might be--and what then trickles in is this delightful little thing called joy.
which doesn't arrive without that first event:  practice.
but once you reach that place where your lines are straight, your circle-cutting is smooth, your cookies turn out great, you can corner with confidence and edit succinctly . . . you realize the joy of mastery, the joy of confidence, the joy of doing something well.

practice, practice, practice.
and when mastery finally arrives, let the joy completely fill your being.
grin, laugh, shout, scream woo-hoo . . . and sing, if you want.  you've earned it.

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