The Power of Belief in Practice

Wheelies took a very long time for me to learn. It was one of the very first tricks I worked on with my first mountain bike. I practiced relentlessly to learn it.

Once I overcame my frustrations and finally learned to wheelie, I had the belief that I could learn other technical bike tricks. I then discovered trials riding, and with my trust in practice, believed I could learn trials with enough dedication.

Essentially, I came to believe in the power of practice.

With yoga, I thought I was just a stiff biker dude, and would always be that way. My yoga teacher told me otherwise, and with practice I now enjoy, among many other things, an incredible range of motion.

With meditation, I thought it was a waste of time, both scientific and anecdotal evidence told me otherwise, so I practiced and sure enough, the benefits have been profound.

If you have an hour to practice something, how are you going to make use of that time? I remember when I was learning trials, I’d go on group rides. We’d be out riding and practicing trials for a few hours, but I’d practice probably 10 times more than anyone else in that same period of time. Then people would come up to me and say, “wow, you’re such a natural at this!”, which I often took as an insult to my dedication and an excuse for the lack of dedication. Now of course, perhaps they were just there for the social aspect, which is cool, just be clear about that intention.

Now, lets mix in belief in practice with time of practice. You could practice an infinite number of hours and not progress. Two factors, how badly do you want to learn it, and do you actually believe you’re capable of learning it? If these two are not present, you could very well be wasting your practice time and prove that the 10,000 hour rule isn’t a rule.

Another variable on ‘how badly do you want it’ is whether you’re actually practicing to achieve, or just practicing for the sake of practice, or both. I’m in that process with juggling. I want to be able to juggle four clubs. I’ve been practicing for over a year. I believe I can, but don’t really care if I don’t learn it because I’m enjoying the process. At least I’m clear, hence I never get frustrated.

In summary, clarity of intention is important, so consider the following simple questions:

  • What skill are you currently practicing?
  • Do you truly believe you can learn that skill?
  • Do you believe practice will get you there?
  • Just how badly do you want to learn it?
  • And why do you want to learn it so badly?! (be as honest as precise as possible)
  • How potently are you using your practice time?

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