Why You need to Practice your desired skills

productivity Aug 09, 2023
Why You need to Practice your desired skills

We'd love it if we could wave a magic wand and get the results we want. However, we don't live in that kind of fantasy world. For you to get the results you want, you need to actually put in effort. This means you will fail and face disappointment. The worst part is that our Western society actively encourages this entitlement mentality because everybody is special. Too many people have forgotten why you need to practice your desired skills.

For some people, certain skill sets come naturally. For everybody, most of your skills must be obtained through effort over time.

Very rarely are people born with amazing skills in any area, and these people are always the exception to the rule. This is why it's so astonishing to witness one of these people.

However much of a prodigy you may be in one area, you will always have one or more where you are lacking and want to improve. Here are two reasons why you need to practice your desired skills.

1. Coming up short

Let's face it: nobody knows exactly what path to take when learning something new. There's always something that slows you down, and most of the time it will be different from someone else. Of course, commonalities exist, but that doesn't change the fact that you won't know where the pitfalls are if you never tread down the path.

Whenever you learn a new skill, there will be roadblocks that prevent you from reaching your end goal. This is nothing new; it's something that people have struggled with since time immemorial.

So the obvious plan of action is to get around the roadblock. Simple enough, yet so many people still struggle with this simple step.

Just as you cannot fix a leaky pipe without the proper tools, you cannot fix it at all if you don't know where it is. Navigating in the dark is the worst way to try and solve a problem.

The majority of people begin learning a new skill and keep barreling through. They never stop to reevaluate their approach and assess if they need to change anything.

This exact mentality is what lead to me getting rejected three times in high school. As confused as I was, I never stopped to reconsider my approach and kept going.

The first reason that practice is important is so you can discover any shortcomings of yours and reevaluate your plan as necessary.

The whole point of practice is to improve in areas that you are lacking so you can mitigate, if not eliminate, the downside of that shortcoming.

On the other hand, while you work to mitigate your shortcomings, you will also be using practice to keep the areas where you excel sharp.

By putting these two together, you develop a skillset where your shortcomings are either predictable for you or gone, and your strengths get to shine through.

2. Acting on instinct

The best feeling in the world is when you do something and it feels completely natural. When you enter a flow state, time feels like it stops while you exist only in the present moment. In order to enter into this kind of state, you need to be adept enough at your skill that it "just happens". 

The height of achievement is when you can do something without having to think about it. Otherwise known as a flow state, there are specific requirements for entering this state.

The two big requirements are being good enough at the task and having it be challenging enough to engage your attention. When these two criteria are met, you enter into a flow state.

Here's the kicker: the second requirement is quite simple to meet, while the first one is not. To make both ends meet, you need to have enough skills.

Unfortunately, the only way to obtain more experience with your skills is to use them. By using your skills over and over, you develop the confidence that you can succeed with them.

I remember in high school, since I was part of the jazz band we had opportunities to volunteer to take solos during our performances. I loved taking those opportunities, even though it terrified me at first.

I remember the first solo I had, I played random notes with no coherent structure. And everybody liked it.

I succeeded where I didn't know if I could, and that led to me becoming confident in this area. I took so many more solos after that, with each one becoming less and less random sounding.

The only reason I was able to make that first solo work to any extent at all is because of the many hours I spent practicing my saxophone at home for regular band class.

The experience I gained through my practice allowed me to play well enough to rise to the challenge I brought on myself. That challenge then pushed me to do more solos, and before I knew it, I was loving it every time.

Ultimately, through deliberate practice, you obtain the skills necessary to perform at the level you desire without expending a lot of effort.

Practice makes Permanent

A saying I learned a long time ago is "Practice makes permanent, not perfect." This makes sense, as the more you repeat something the more ingrained it becomes as a habit.

By practicing the skill necessary for your desired outcome, you get closer and closer to being able to permanently create the opportunities you want in your life.

- Karl