Practice is the Path to Success

Written by Dr. Dan Johnston

We're more comfortable doing what we do well, but sometimes you have to fail before you practice makes perfect

Watch Tiger Woods play golf or listen to the Three Tenors sing, and it seems their abilities come naturally to them. 

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Saying that something comes naturally often implies that it takes no effort. This is not true. Sure, some natural ability may be involved, but training, practice and hard work are always required.

At times, Woods makes golf look effortless, but only as a result of natural ability plus determination and years of practice.

When beginning something new, we often become discouraged as we encounter problems of performance. The new activity is not easy, and we may quit if we don't understand that we can train ourselves to look like a "natural."

Having some basic ability doesn't make it easy. Ability is only a starting point. It is practice that makes it natural.

What keeps you from being great at public speaking or a particular sport? Even if you don't have a knack for something, you can still practice. However awkward, you can fake it until you make it.

In life, we may initially shy away from the hard work of learning to be a natural, but hopefully, we come to realize that any skill only becomes truly natural through practice. There is no easy path to success.

Practice something enough and it will begin to look easy, but only from a distance. Up close and personal we find it takes relentless hours of practice, failure and more practice until it is done right. It takes more of the same for it to become natural, and for us to make it look easy.

Picture by Christy Thompson

Dan Johnston, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and director of psychological services at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. He also serves on the faculty of the Mercer University School of Medicine. Johnston is the creator of the Awakenings Web site, offering lessons for living.

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