“For about 5 years he did not take one day off. We trained on Christmas, twice on his birthday.” – Bob Bowman coach of Michael Phelps
The most important rule for excelling in your field is daily practice.
Achieving professionalism may seem disturbingly out of reach to the novice but with each hour of practice he comes closer to his goal. Enjoy the process of becoming a professional.
When you master a craft you become one with the activity.
Real pros make what seems difficult look easy.
To reach a level of effortless excellence you have to do something related to your craft every day until it is like breathing.
The infant stages of learning something requires substantial mental and physical energy. However with consistent practice some of the actions needed to execute your craft will become automatic and require less energy. Subsequently your skill becomes an easy habit.
Achieving automatic practice of your particular craft may take months or years of training depending on your determination and the difficulty of the craft.
Automatic actions produce high quality with less energy. Individuals therefore have more energy to expend on their unique expressions.
When actions are automatic you become one with them.
Shifting From Doing To Being
The shift from doing to being one with your craft happens when stopping the activity becomes difficult.
Doing: Breathing is an effortless action.
Stopping: To stop breathing for long is difficult.
Operating on a professional level is like breathing. The activity becomes so integrated into your being that taking a break from your craft is difficult.
A few signs to tell when you shift from doing to being one with your craft:
- Distractions are no longer a problem.
- You no longer have to force yourself into action or need motivation when it comes to your craft.
- The hours pass by fast and you wish you had more time to spend on your craft.
- Actions you once had to practice become automatic.
The state of being one with a craft comes from hours of concentrated training over years. The years of hard work is an initiation process most people cannot survive. This is why masters in a field are few.
Sometimes what is refereed to as genius is just hard work in disguise. When an individual’s success is highlighted but his history of hard work and trial and error is hidden the individual is labeled a genius.
Different Days, Different Degrees
Professionals can spend hours on their craft each day without getting tired. In the early stages avoid going to this extreme.
Doing something every day is not easy especially if it is done with high intensity. Novices who fall into the trap of starting with extreme hours of practice per day burn out quickly like a blazing fire that rises fast.
What is extreme to the novice is normal to the professional. To avoid stress and other health problems be flexible and vary the difficulty of your practice to suit particular days. A carpenter may spend some days drawing designs and other days working with actual wood, tools and machines. An athlete may do intense training five days a week and light yoga the other two. A singer may write songs and practice dance routines on the days when her voice needs rest.
The newbie with aspirations of mastering a craft has to learn from early not to depend on motivation and feelings.
A few things you won’t be able to tell yourself on the path to mastering a craft:
“I’m not in the mood to practice today.”
“I don’t feel like it today.”
“I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Don’t fall into the trap of allowing your work ethic to fluctuate with your feelings. Today you feel motivated you work hard, tomorrow you have no motivation and nothing gets done. In most cases fluctuating like this won’t get you far. Push yourself to practice regardless of your feelings and emotions for that day.
Some days your motivation will be low and no amount of positive thinking and affirmations will change that. On those gloomy days going through the process will feel like hell but if you push extra hard and do something, the next day you’ll be happy you did.