Word Count: 402  |  Time to Read: 2 minutes  |  OCTOBER 2013
Be Careful What You Practice
When you hear the word "practice," what do you immediately think of?

Playing the piano?  Practicing a sport?  Reciting Lines? Or...?

Make a quick mental list of the things that you consciously practice every day.  How long 
is your list? 

Let me offer a definition of practice: Practice is the conscious repetition of a pattern of thoughts, spoken words, or actions in order to be reliably performed well.

With this definition, does your list become longer or shorter?

As a leader in your organization, what do you practice every day?  How about as a parent?  As a spouse/partner?  As a friend?

And here is the most important question:  What do you practice every day consciously, 
with deliberate intent? 

If your answer to this question is nothing or very few things, this probably means that every day you are unconsciously practicing engrained habits from the past and getting better and better "at them."

Here is a rule of human behavior:  We get really good at what we practice.  

Unfortunately, this rule applies equally to both positive and negative patterns. When we are essentially unaware of what we are practicing, we practice "good" and "bad" patterns with equal fervor.
The truth is, most of the time we are simply unaware of what we are practicing, which means, we get better and better at what we do habitually without any real awareness.

Here are some suggestions for what you might consider taking on as a daily practice:
  • Practice making sure you really understand another person before responding with agreement, disagreement, or tuning out.  
  • Practice making clear requests when you want something rather than just expecting it to happen.    
  • Practice looking at your own actions when something goes wrong rather than jumping to blame another.    
  • Practice living in today, which includes letting go of the past as well as worrying
    about the future.    
  • Practice looking for what is working well and building on it rather than looking for problems or hunting for what's possibly missing.   
  • Practice managing your emotions rather than letting your emotions manage you.

And finally, perhaps the most important practice: Practice being aware of what you are practicing. Make sure that what you practice is the same as what you want to become
skilled at.

It is never too late to start practicing the thoughts, words, and actions that will bring you greater skill and satisfaction.  
Give it a try.  Start today.