The Perfect Practice Paradox
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
If you’ve listened to The Whole Equestrian Podcast before, you know that Emily and I talk a lot about our goals for the year- last year we did 19 for 2019 this year, 20 in 2020. I think we might need to rethink our goal setting model by 2047 but for now, it's what we're going with. And it's been great, it’s a way to hold ourselves accountable for going after the things we want to accomplish and to inspire others to do the same. One of my goals for 2020 is to write a blog post once a month, and I have to be honest, I’ve been brainstorming over my idea for this month’s topic quite a bit and was having some trouble putting it into words- until I had a revelation.
What I wanted to write about is the paradox of perfect practice. About how we don’t live in a perfect world, so “perfect practice makes perfect” doesn’t make sense. Well, I realized the message I wanted to convey to you was exactly what I was doing with my writing. I wanted to create a very eloquently written post about how the research behind the 10,000 hour rule has been misquoted and about how Equestrian sports deal with a living breathing creature that, although in my eyes are perfect, add too many variables in to the mix to truly be able to calculate a formula for success.
I wanted to tell you about how when I was riding competitively, I took lessons almost every single day and yet still hit a wall where I felt like there was nothing I could do to get any better. And more importantly, I wanted to tell you that I’d found the secret path to avoid falling into this trap.
But I can’t. I recently heard advice on one of my favorite podcasts that one of the elements of success is to “embrace the harsh realities of life.” And part of my optimistic can-do personality sank a little bit when I heard this- but only for a moment. Because I realized that if life could be boiled down so simply into a classic aphorism such as “perfect practice makes perfect” that life wouldn’t be any fun.
So here are the harsh realities.
You don’t learn by doing things perfectly. You learn by messing them up by figuring out how to endure through the chaos that is life. The path to mastery is not some magical bubble, and while yes, I am a huge fan of trying to figure out the underlying system and codes to success, you can’t ignore the fact that there will be times that you do everything right and something still goes wrong. There will always be people who seem to have it easier than you (ignore them), and you can’t plan for the days that you wake up feeling like complete and utter shit.
The point is if you want things to be perfect all the time, you will be continuously disappointed. But don’t listen to this and say, “well that’s great, I guess there’s no point in trying” … wrong. Perfect practice might not make perfect, but persistent practice guarantees progress and productivity.
Learn to show up every day despite the things you can’t control. Learn to laugh when things go wrong because they will. Stop trying to be perfect and learn to adapt.
I wanted this post to be perfect. It’s not. It’s just some thoughts I have about life based on my experiences. And I’m 25 years old for goodness sakes, so what do I know besides the fact that I’ve got a lot more to learn about life. But sharing the thoughts, dreams, and struggles I have along the way truly do make it better.
Thank you guys for reading- and enjoy the ride!