The Alchemy of Performance Practice

Posted on Monday, April 28, 2014

Bill Treasurer, Courage Guru and former member of the US High Diving Team, was a high-school swimmer when his coach saw an opportunity to get him a college scholarship -- by taking his effortless dive and moving it up. Way, way up. The problem was, Bill was afraid of heights. So they agreed to move the diving board up just one foot. Bill was scared to death, but he dove from that height a hundred times, until he got comfortable and even bored, and then moved it up another foot. The quality of the dives varied, but Bill and his coach both knew that with patient persistence, he would make progress. One foot at a time, with a hundred variations in between, working with a practical level of discomfort, until growth and mastery unfolded.

Growth demands discomfort and risk, but too much too soon can set you back, or stop you in your tracks. We all want everything immediately, yet each of us is a unique mixture of elements
with a different path. Some goals come quickly, while others require the patience to work one step at a time. Those carefully laid-out steps may seem small, but they steadily move us forward
from A to Z.

Bill was lucky to have a coach with the insight and experience to lay out the steps for him. In your own efforts to improve your communication skills, the steps to your goal may seem less well-defined, but the process is the same. Anyone who competes in sports, plays music, or practices any skill, knows this very well.

Like it or not, you can’t force yourself to achieve mastery any more than you can force a child to grow up faster, or force yourself to run a marathon or play a symphony until you've done the training. Each step along the way is valid and necessary and worth celebrating.  Every one of those steps is a worthy adventure essential to the successful outcome.

What is your goal, and what steps do you need to create growth? Where does your spectrum of discomfort lie and how can you courageously navigate your way forward?

It might seem like magic, but turning base metal into gold takes time, as do all things of lasting value.