When the didgeridoo sounds broken, keep playing.

Continuing on with yesterday’s post on how to take your passion and master it, we take a look at what inevitably happens, you hit a wall.  This will happen…almost guaranteed.  You practice and practice, continually making progress and getting better…..then suddenly, you hit it…that road block that keeps you from making any progress.  People who diet always talk about that plateau they hit.  They progressively lose weight, only too find that for weeks perhaps, they lose nothing, even though they’ve changed nothing.  The body builder, who lifts religiously and is gaining strength and muscle, suddenly gains neither, even though they are doing what they are supposed to.

When you reach that point in whatever you are doing, it’s easy to get discouraged and quit.  That’s what happened to me the first time I tried to learn to play the didgeridoo.  I was actually getting better, then suddenly after a few weeks, it sounded as if it was broken.  No good sound was coming of that thing and I quickly got discouraged and soon quit.

I’ve done that with other things, even stuff I’m very passionate about.  As I’ve mentioned before, I like to write.  But if the muse isn’t awake in me and nothing good is getting put down on paper, I’ve quit entirely for months on end.  This blog is a good example of that.  Sporadic posting for a couple years and then nothing until this past October.  I’m glad to say that I’ve been relatively consistent since then and I can sense my writing getting better.  I enjoy it more and want to do more of it.  I’m sure I’ll hit that block again so how can I persevere?

  1. Push through it if you can.  Most roadblocks are really minor speed bumps.  If you keep the motor running and keep moving forward, you’ll get over that speed bump soon enough and then things will run smoothly.
  2. Take a temporary detour.  Sometimes that roadblock is a bit larger and you can just plow through it.  Then perhaps take a detour and change things up a bit.  I normally write these blog posts at my desk in my home.  But if I’m not feeling it and I feel like a need a detour, I’ll take my computer and head to the coffee shop, or perhaps I’ll just take pad and paper and go sit on the porch.  But regardless of the change in scenery, I keep on writing.  The change in surroundings is often enough to get the juices flowing again.
  3. Stop, assess the situation and try a different path before coming back.  Sometimes those roadblocks are more like walls that suddenly appear across the road and you’ve just hit it head on.  These times for me are rare, but they can be the most dangerous in your pursuit of mastery.  These are the times when you’re most likely to just give up and quit.  Your didgeridoo must be broken, so you throw it away never to look back.   At these times, perhaps you do need to take a break from your practice.  You may just be burned out.  Stop, try something new for a while..this could be days or weeks or more.  But often, if you’re truly passionate about it, it won’t take long at all to come back, with a fresh perspective and suddenly the wall is gone.

Don’t assume that just because the didgeridoo sounds awful that it’s broken.  Don’t assume just because your muse is playing hooky for a day, that you writing is done.  If you’re passionate about what you are doing….keep at it, persevere and you’ll get over those humps and onward to mastery.

You have to practice your didgeridoo everyday.

160px-Australia_Aboriginal_Culture_009I once tried to learn how to play the didgeridoo.  Yes I own one.  No I never learned how to play.  Why did I fail?  What went wrong?  Practice, or lack thereof is what went wrong.  I failed to practice it everyday.   Had I practiced everyday, even for just a little while, I would have eventually, perhaps years later, but eventually would have been decent at it.

This attempt at didgeridoo mastery occurred back in around 2003 or maybe even earlier…so imagine if I had only practiced one hour three times a week since then (post date is in 2014, so we will say 11 years)…3 hours / week, 52 weeks/ year, 156 hours a year for 11 years, that would be 1716 hours of practice.  I would think that you could become quite proficient at just about anything after 1700+ hours.

Now I do have one caveat with this little discussion.  Many of you have heard the term “Practice makes perfect.”   Well that is false….incorrect….just flat out wrong.  Practice doesn’t make perfect…..Practice makes PERMANENT.   If you practice perfectly, then practice will make perfect over time….but if you practice incorrectly, bad habits will form and will  be very hard to break.

So why am I writing this post?  Not to impress you with my didgeridoo mastery….but to make a point that has become clear in my mind recently.  If you’ve got a passion, something you wish you were doing, or that dream skill that you always wanted to have…..practice it.

I’ve always wanted to write, always wanted to be a writer….I need to write….write as much as possible, write as often as I can.  I should be able to put down 500-1000 words a day minimum without too much trouble.  While this post is a little short, most of my posts here average between 500-1000 words.  What if I wrote a post every day, or every other day?  How much better at writing would I become?  What if I did that every day and churned out 300,000+ words in a year?  What’s an average novel size? 100,000 words?  Just think, if I wrote every day, I could be putting out 3 novels a year.  Of course there is much more that goes into creating a novel than just writing, however, if I practice it every day….I can’t help but get better at it.

Just think too, if we would spend just a little time in prayer each day?  Or how about be like Daniel and pray 3 times a day, every day.  How much better would we be able to talk to God and to discern his voice when he speaks to us?   What if we read our Bible every day?  Just pick a couple verses to start and read every day.  How much better would we understand God’s word and understand his will?

It only took me about 15 minutes to write about 500 words in this post.  Not much time out of my day.  Time that could have been otherwise wasted.  But those 15 minutes spent each day, whether writing, whether praying, whether reading God’s word…and yes even playing the didgeridoo, add up to mastery when repeated over and over.