There are only three steps to get from where you are to where you want to be:
- Be aware.
- Do what you can.
- Play with what you can't (yet).
It seems so simple.
What we often do instead
The above three things may seem obvious and simple, but many times it's not what we actually do. It's important to realize what we are doing that doesn't work and make sure we don't do it anymore!
Below are some examples of what not to do:
Don't fly blind: So many people get caught focusing so much on their goals that they forget to pay attention to what is actually happening. Awareness of yourself is essential. You need to be brave enough to look at the cold hard truth about exactly what you are doing and how it's working out. This means doing what you need to do to be truly present in each moment, and finding ways to measure your results.
Don't focus on the walls: World champion race care driver Mario Andretti was asked for his number one tip for success. He said, 'Don't look at the wall'. The idea is, if you focus on the wall, you'll end up going there, so focus on the open road. When you use the strategy of doing what you can, it moves you away from the walls and towards the open spaces.
Don't value perfection over process: Dogmatic debates about what is right or wrong are useless to most processes. Allow yourself some wiggle room as you learn. Did you know that airplanes are off course 90% of the time they are in the air? That means if you posted 10 pictures of a plane's flight-path on facebook, the comments would be: 'WRONG!' 'WRONG!' 'WRONG!' 'WRONG!' 'WRONG!' 'WRONG!' 'WRONG!' 'WRONG!' 'WRONG!' & 'I've seen better looking planes'... And yet, the plane arrives.
You need to be in motion in order to course-correct.
Keep moving toward your destination. Don't listen to those who are too quick to judge (including yourself).
How To: Be More Aware:
Pick your head up now and again. Are you are where you wanted to be? If you're not where you wanted to go, check in with yourself. Maybe this place is actually better than what you originally were aiming for. Allow yourself to be surprised.
Take a breath: The truth is that every moment and every place has the perfect thing for you to learn right now. THIS moment in front of you right now is the only moment you can experience. Whether you 'like' it or not, it is the only moment you've got. Pause. What is to be discovered? What you learn in this moment is the only thing that can help you enjoy the next one.
How to: Do What You Can:
The fastest way to be able to do what you can't (yet) do is to improve your skills at what you can do. Look for more basic versions of what you are trying to do and do them with excellence. Look for ingredients within what you are trying to do. When you find them, get great at them. Not sure what the ingredients are? Then get great at learning more about what it is you are trying to do! Read, observe, ask questions. When in doubt, practice getting better at all your basics. It will never hurt!
How to: Play With What You Can't (yet) do:
Find the angle. Once I had a field full of dog fennel (it's a 5' tall weed). A person I was with tried hard to pull it out of the ground. When it wouldn't budge they gave up. I grabbed it and gave it little tugs in different directions, and on the 3rd tug, out it popped! When presented with something you don't think you can do, get curious! Playfulness is what will help you experience the productive struggle.
A productive struggle is a process of effortful learning. It's where you immerse yourself in the puzzle and commit to thinking outside the box. It's where you learn not only the answer, but how to problem-solve more creatively in general. You play with ideas and experiment with new ways of doing things.
It doesn't mean you refuse to listen to advice from experienced sources, it just means you learn to find your way of accomplishing the task. Everyone holds their fork a little differently, yet most people manage to get the food in their mouth! Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Pilots know they will be 'WRONG' 90% of the time yet they still take off.
Precision arrives out of the possibilities that play creates, so start playing!
The process IS the fun part!
Look for Simple, Powerful Solutions
Humans tend to gravitate towards the complex. It's our nature. As hard as it may be to admit, sometimes we even like when the solution is overly complex; it gives us a built in excuse for why we can't overcome it. It can be scary to face one small task and still have trouble improving it. You need to be able to embrace vulnerability in order to know something is totally possible AND admit you still can't do it (yet). It often feels easier to tell ourselves: 'I just can't do it', or blame someone or something for our lack of progress.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure" ~Marianne Williamson
Be fearless: Take one small piece and go deep.
Wonder: 'How amazing could this get?'
Get excited: If things aren't coming easy, it means you will need to find a new way of learning. This new way will help you in everything that you do!
Embrace the paradox: Mastering your process is what will yield the results. When you value (and enjoy) the process over the results, the results will come more quickly.
Be committed, but not attached: At the end of the day, it is what it is. If you know you did your best, you can sleep well.
"Fall in love with the process and results will follow." ~Eric Thomas
A note to my horse friends:
Wow, I didn't say the word HORSE once in this blog (until now). I did that on purpose because what I talk about in this blog is universal. You need to practice this all the time, not just when you're with your horse. In the Video Classroom, go to January 2020: How To Improve Everything to see a discussion video on this subject where I give some examples of how to use this with your horse.
Here is a picture of some horses so you don't go through withdrawal. 😍
Here also is a video excerpt from a 20 minute video in the Video Classroom (January 2020) where I give more horse examples of this topic.
The Dressage Naturally way of teaching embraces what I have written about here. Visit the website to get an overview of the DN methods. To see all online learning resources for Dressage Naturally, go here. We also have an audio book called: How To Improve Everything You Do With Your Horse. It's available on Audible!
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