It's all about the practice

By: Peter Spiegel, M.Ed.

When I worked as a teacher, I was amazed at how much students obsessed over a thing that they either ‘had it’, or ‘didn’t’. This concept of being innately endowed with special abilities to conquer the world of knowledge is one of the most pernicious fallacies that has permeated our lives since… well, forever. Even the stoic philosopher Epictetus saw this very thing occurring in his time.

It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows”.

Do you remember when Allen Iverson got in trouble with his coach for missing practice? Why do you think the coach was upset? What is it about ‘practice’ that makes it important? Why do we need to go through the motions and repeat things over and over and over again? Even if we think we ‘know’ it.

It’s called preparation.

Repetition is not some facile task to be completed for the sake of completing it. It prepares us for the moment when things are actually on the line and counts. When faced with that moment, we want to be able to say to ourselves that we have no doubt of the outcome, not doubt of our abilities. They are now second nature to us.

When we wake in the wee hours of the night and need to get a glass of water from the kitchen, do we turn on all the lights? No, we don’t. We walk though our home in darkness. We know every turn, every step, every placement of furniture in the house because we have walked those steps thousands of times before. In short, we are practiced in movement throughout our home. Why should our nutrition be any different?

Epictetus said it best over two thousand years ago. When we stop thinking we already know, we are then free to focus on practicing the skills necessary that will enact change when an opportunity reveals itself.

Peter Spiegel