How To Get Better At Anything

Paradiddles.  Doesn’t it sound kind of like a dance move?  So when my drum teacher asked me to play them, I thought, “No problem,” because he had already showed me how that drumbeat : RLRR, LRLL and so on, (R – right drum stick, L – left drum stick) could be mastered by just going slow and building my speed up over time. AND it did go well, until he told me to head on over to the drum set where he then asked me to add the bass drum, and cymbals in addition to the snare drum! WHAT?? That was OTT (means over the top in music speak) and way too much.

But then, he did a funny thing, he had me break down  the sticking into each component part (My left foot, my right foot, my left hand and my right hand.) It felt like I was trying to fly a helicopter on the ground! After he showed me how to do that,  he had me slow it down, and when I could do that, he had me work on smoothing out my playing. What seemed like an impossible task in the beginning turned into a framework that showed me how I could eventually master this skill. Way cool!

What I didn’t know was the method he used was similar to the method outlined in the book “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle.  According to Coyle, top performers have talent, but a large part of what sets them apart is their incredible work ethic, AND the use of this concept called Deep Practice. (You can click the picture for more information about the book)

But before we get to the outline of how you can follow six easy steps to jump start your skill development, there are some basic concepts you have to grasp first.

The Simple Facts About Our Biology:

  1. “Every human movement, thought, or feeling is a precisely timed electric signal traveling through a chain of neurons — a circuit of nerve fibers.
  2. Myelin is the insulation that wraps these nerve fibers and increases signal strength, speed, and accuracy.
  3. The more we fire a particular circuit, the more myelin optimizes that circuit, and the stronger, faster, and more fluent our movements and thoughts become.”

Are you starting to see why practice is so so important?

Two More Fun Facts:

  1. “All actions are the result of electrical impulses sent along chains of nerve fibers.
  2. The more we develop a skill circuit, the less we’re aware that we’re using it… We’re built to make skills automatic, to stash them in our unconscious mind.”

Now does it make sense why pesky habits are so hard to get rid of?

The point of this brief lesson in neurology is to make the simple but deadly point that skill = biology = myelin development.

So what does all of that have to do with deep practice? Deep practice develops myelin in a way that makes you become really good at what you do. You become stronger, faster and more fluent in your movements.

And what is so great about that is that you can learn deep practice, too!

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Speaking of developing a practice that works for you, I have a tool  that will help you get started creating the life you want to live on your own terms. It’s a free resource that asks you some key clarifying questions that helped me and my clients to do just that!

Click here to GET ACCESS

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Losing it. Heard that saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it?!” Well it’s based on the concept mentioned above that if you don’t fire the circuits of a particular activity, thought, or feeling, the myelin starts to break down around that circuit, and as a consequence, makes it weaker and weaker until it will not fire well, anymore. Want to get rid of a habit, stop doing it, and just wait. Eventually, the desire to do it disappears. Conversely, if you want to keep a skill and improve on it, daily practice is the key, and deep practice is THE BOMB.

Speaking of practice. I just did a Facebook Live, yesterday, on this very topic, where I not only illustrate the six steps of Deep Practice below, but also started to build consistency in my practice of speaking live. You can find it here: Facebook Live Practice #2

Here is a brief summary of the steps that help you learn a skill faster, better and with more accuracy.

Six Steps to Deep Practice

  1. Get a big picture overview
  2. Break it down to the smallest blocks of information (chunks) that can be easily mastered
  3. Slow it down to the speed that can be easily mastered
  4. Get it down through repetition (Turn inward and identify what it feels like when you do it right, and wrong)
  5.  Build it back up, and then
  6. Slowly increase speed

Once you get used to practicing these six steps, any skill you want to learn will become a lot easier to master, and if you do the work, your steps to mastery will be faster, too!

Practice makes progress, or like Coyle likes to say, “Practice makes myelin.” And with daily practice, myelin makes you a bad ass drummer and Facebook Live presenter . 🙂

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed this summary of Coyle’s book.  It really is worth your time to learn, in detail, how to use deep practice in your life. Here is the link to my latest Facebook Live Show, again. #WhiteboardWednesdays

Until next time,

Until next time, remember, you are so much more than who you think yourself to be

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Oh My Gosh – Mel Robbins Raw and Real!

I was at my networking meeting this morning, and gave my 2 minute infomercial. The substance of the talk was to introduce the idea that you can condition yourself to have your best days more often:

…A lot of us tend to use a small amount of our ability, and when we get challenged, stressed, or even when we have a bad day, oftentimes, our best selves don’t show up, precisely because, we haven’t condition that skill. We forget what we are going to say, we take short cuts, and we even lose our tempers. As a result, we can get disappointed and feel stuck. We can then believe that the explanations we have about why we can’t get what we want are all true and that they define our capabilities.

A coach can teach you how to have your best days more often, and help you to condition that skill so that you can have the focus, confidence and clarity you need to succeed…”

You see many of us don’t realize that a lot of successful characteristics people have are actually skills that everyone of us can develop. When I got home,  I logged on to Facebook and saw this interview Mel Robbins did with Impact Theory host Tim Bilieu.

All I can say is that she gave a beautiful explanation of how we can mess with ourselves! In her honest retelling of the struggles she has faced and overcome, she shares with the viewer how to condition a skill that gets you out of worry, anxiety, or procrastination and into actions that work. It is well worth the time investment. Don’t watch your favorite TV show until you watch this interview!

I hope that you enjoyed watching Mel, and take action on what you hear. When you do, it will be a game changer for you! If you want to learn more about Mel Robbins, her book,  or Impact theory, click the links below:

https://melrobbins.com/blog/

The Five Second Rule

http://impacttheory.com/

Thanks for reading, and until next time,

 

Remember your so much more than who you believe yourself to be!

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Heroes Are Us

fullsizerender2” I was f-ing superman when I closed that deal! I can do no wrong!! Bring it! What’s next?!!” Can you feel that energy, power and conviction? If you are like most of us, at one time or another, you have heard or said something like it. Which got me to thinking, “What’s up with this superhero thing, and how can I use it?”

These days, superheroes are everywhere. Not only in our imaginations, but on TV shows, t-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, and at your favorite dress up shop. As you know, we flock to the movie theaters to see them do epic battles, suffer, and then come back to to be victorious. We know it’s going to end up that way, but the doubt we experience during the journey blinds us to the fact that heroes always win. It just might be not in the way we think. Do you know what I mean?

So, this superhero thing has kinda been haunting me. While I was at a conference about a week or so ago, I could close my eyes and imagine the big guy on stage in a cape with his x-ray vision, ready to fly off at a moment’s notice to save the world from itself!!! Oh my gosh, that thought is not very  far from the truth.  Have you ever noticed that we want to make super-heroes out of the people we admire most?

Joseph Campbell wrote a book about heroes, and why they touch us so deeply. You can check it out here.  According to Campbell, heroes are us. Just in case you didn’t get that, I will say it again. You and I have heroic tendencies, and when we see people we admire do brave and noble things, that recognition is ignited. In short, Campbell believes that the hero’s journey is a path of self discovery that ultimately actualizes us to be the best version of ourselves, and leads us to share our journey with others.

Guess what I used to do for fun? I would go across the street in front of my house, jump the fence, and navigate the hillside to get to the park. Then I would run through my drills: spear throwing with the reed grass, obstacle course, imaginary bow and arrow shooting, climbing hills to evade attack, and finally, lassoing suspect bushes to force them to tell me the truth. I didn’t really care if an adult would watch me with amusement. If another kid came to the park, they would, inevitably,  want to jump in and help me defeat the bad guys. Wonder Woman was my girl. Linda Carter, all by herself, ignited the imagination of girls everywhere. Never before did we have a TV series that portrayed a woman as the star of the show. A star, by the way,  that was beautiful, strong, smart and kind.fullsizerender

Yes, this is me as my favorite super hero a couple of Halloween’s ago. Notice the lasso of truth. You, probably, can’t see it from the photo, but my invisible plane is parked in our driveway ready for my next adventure. Isn’t it funny that I really became a commercial pilot, and certified flight instructor, or that one of my basic values is to search for the truth in real life? I think it is no accident, because I think the superhero we admire most embodies the qualities that we most like to experience in ourselves.

So I am wondering, who is your favorite superhero and why? Perhaps by asking that question, you will discover something amazing about yourself. What would life be like for you if you embodied the characteristics you love most about your hero, and lived those values every day? I encourage you to go out, and become your own superhero. It is not only fun, it may just bring you back to the excitement of discovery, and the feeling of being the best version of you that is possible. By the way, just so you know, superheroes live among us. They leave clues, so look for them. That lady next door may have the skill set you need to learn, or the man at the grocery store who is bagging your groceries may have the solution to a problem. When people don’t openly wear their capes they hard to identify. You never know, unless you start asking some questions.

If you have any questions, or have some superhero ideas you want to share, you can reach me at info@challengeyourvision.com. If you need some help with mindset or skill set development,  you can go to my website for more information at challengeyourvision.com

Thanks for reading, and until next time,

You are so much more than who you believe yourself to be!

Christine

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When is your best time…for anything?

whenI am always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to get more out of life. While working on the topic of peak time performance, I came across a pretty cool find. I wanted to know what the best performance tips were for morning larks or night owls? It didn’t occur to me that there might be more to it than that. I wonder if we learn binary thinking in school – yes/no, right/wrong, true/false, black/white — or if we are just prone to think that way? What do you think? Are we trained to think this way? For me, I think it is a combination of biology (protect the human at all costs), and environmental conditioning (protect the ego at all costs) that play havoc with our ability to see clearly.

Anyway, back to the point. When do you kick ass and when do you collapse? I found out the answer isn’t quite so…black and white. In fact there is a whole field devoted to this idea.  The Power of When is a book that flips binary thinking (morning or evening?) right on its hard head.

The big idea behind it is that all of us have a genetic predisposition to a certain type of chronobiology. Wondering what the heck that is? Chronobiology is a field of biology that examines periodic (cyclic) phenomena in living organisms and their adaptation to solar- and lunar-related rhythms. These cycles are known as biological rhythms. Thank you, Monsieur Google for that definition.

What does chronobiology mean for you? Just the ultimate life hack. What if you knew the best time to meet the love of your life… to get a raise…to eat whatever you want and not get fat… to train… to connect with those you care about?!!

According to the author, Michael Breus, all you have to do is know what type you are, and then shift to the optimum time to do that activity for you in order to get the best result. If you are interested in more, as in a better quality of life experience, this book needs to be in your wheel house for a couple of reasons:

  1. If his claims are true, how would your quality of life change? Just thinking about it gets me pumped.
  2. If his claims are true, how much better would your contribution be in every area of your life?

Breus tells us there are four chronotypes: Lion, Bear, Dolphin and Wolf.  A brief description of the four are:

Lion – “Morning-oriented driven optimists” who get the job done are medium sleepers.

Dolphin -Highly intelligent perfectionists who are light sleepers.

Wolf -Impulsive creatives with emotional intensity who are late risers.

Bear -Cautious, fun loving and friendly. They are notorious snooze-button pushers. 🙂

I am about a third of the way through the book, and just finished Chapter 5. Let’s just say that the testing has already begun.

Below is the book trailer  that explains this innovative idea in a fun, clever way:

If you are impatient and want to know just a few of the tips that will help you get more out of your day, regardless of what your chronotype, then click on this cheat sheet

If you are even a smidge curious, take this 45 second quiz to find out which chronotype you are here.

So I have a question for you? Are you game to try a little experimentation?

I am about to take this challenge head on and modify my schedule based on Dr. Breus’s recommendations. I tested out as a Lion, and true to the description, I lose steam and miss the party in the evening hours. Next week, I will let you know if the good doctor’s prescription made it so I could party with the big boys.

Stay tuned.

Until next time,

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PS If you want to buy the book, you can get it here

Is Time On Your Side?

computer1Have you ever had this happen to you? You are working on a really important project, and your computer totally locks up – as in stops working completely – right when you were almost done? On top of that, you didn’t save your work. Yes, colorful language did flow. The combination of dread, frustration, disbelief (dare I say, rage?) at an inanimate object was quite palpable. All of those skills that I had worked so hard to master – to have patience, to re-frame challenges, to use my obstacle obliteration protocol — all of them evaporated for a full 5 – 50 whole minutes! 😉 I had to finally back away from the computer. I had to breathe. I had to find humor in giving a tool so much power over me and over my peace of mind. But the stakes were high, and when the stakes are high, sometimes, setbacks carry a lot of power.

What are the stakes? In the next couple of weeks, I will step into coaching in a bigger way by  launching my website. I will also release a report about time awareness and management entitled, The Time Audit Protocol. In it, I detail a proven system that will not only help you manage your time better, but will also help you to live a better quality of life. To me this is huge, because I have been playing in the margins for a while, and I believe that now is the time to step up.

My mission is to help and empower people, especially children,  “step up” when they don’t think or feel they can do that for themselves. So when I have any sort of setback these days, like the computer problem, it hits me hard. This mission is a big deal to me. I want to give my best, and when something messes with that, like the friggin computer, I am challenged to … channel my frustration and fear in a positive way.

In that moment of equipment failure, it felt like I was in a tunnel. The more I went through different solutions, the more the tunnel opening narrowed, until I felt that the only way to get through was to squeeze each part of body into the sliver of light on the other side. It was like my face was jammed up against the wall, and as I inched forward, I could feel both sides of the wall pressing against me. Have you ever had that feeling? The more you tried,  the more trapped you became, and the more stuck you felt?

I could feel that I was at some sort of  threshold. Part of me was stuck in the past, and part of me was inching toward the future. My body,  wedged firmly in the present, was no help because panic had gripped me. My mind started to race -how do I get out of here? What can I do? Why does this always happen to me? How did this mess happen? What is wrong with me, why didn’t I remember to save my work?

At some point, I realized that the blame and the questions were past scripts that were not going to fix my computer – ever – and that was when the shift happened. The reason I share this with you is to impress upon you two important observations: 1) If I hadn’t given in to my old ways of handling a setback, I would have solved this technical issue much faster and 2) When I asked a better type of question, I got a better answer. Instead of focusing on how I felt, or how disappointed I was, or who had caused this problem, I focused on what I could do about it. When my focus shifted, so did my choices.

So what does all of this have to do with time? The answer is that when I was confronted with a problem that triggered a past program – much like a computer program  in my brain —  I was held captive. It was safe, because I had run that sequence before. I also did feel a release when I let out my litany of verbal lobs at my computer, and relief when I blamed someone, even if it was myself. In a weird sort of way, when I blamed myself, I asked, “Well, if it is my fault, what can I do about it?”

I realized it was, in part, my time perspective – looking for an answer in the past that jammed me up.  Phil Zombardo –you can find his work here was right. In his work, he illustrates how our relationship with time could effect how we respond to situations, and it can even affect our levels of happiness. If you are more of a visual learner, below is the RSA Animate Version of his time perspective research:

I came up with five tips that can help you get time on your side. But before I share those, I am wondering, “Where do you live?” Are you hanging out mostly in the past, present or future? Below is a brief summary of the perspectives.

Past Time Perspective –    img_0327 There are basically two versions: 1) Past-positive: You focus on the good old times. 2) Past-negative: You focus on disappointment and regret.  This is very similar to a guard enforcing your rules. This perspective connects you to who you were back then, and it is a safe place to be. You have rules and you intend to follow them. Whenever a situation arises, you may ask, “How was it in the past?” or you may think, “This is exactly like when…” And then you act on that directive. At some level, we all do this, because we develop habits to automate our thinking. The good news is that we can replace a habit that doesn’t serve us with one that does. How? I will have a link at the bottom of this post if you want to learn how to do just that.

imagePresent Time Perspective – There are two versions of this as well: 1) Present-hedonistic: Seek pleasure and avoid pain.  This is it. This is all we have. 2) Present-fatalistic means my life is fated by conditions out of my control, so why do anything. This perspective can lead to pleasure seeking at the expense of future happiness and security. If there is no tomorrow, why plan for it? If there is no moment except this one, why work so hard, and why contribute to something larger than ourselves? This ‘you’ve got to get it while you can’ can lead to selfish actions that can harm you and others. But what Zombardo doesn’t mention about this perspective is that when we  do not think about the past, or lay the groundwork for the future, we can experience the beauty and the magic of the present moment.

img_0213 Future Time Perspective – The final two: 1) Future-practical – we learn to prepare. To work for a better tomorrow, and most of us hang here to a degree. 2) Future-Fatalistic – our life begins when our body dies. Trust that the universe or God has a plan for you, and  follow the tenets of your religion, culture, group et al. In this perspective, if you follow the rules, happiness follows.

If I had remembered Zombardo’s model, I might have been better prepared for my computer fiasco, and saved a lot of time and discomfort when handling the problem. Bottom line when your choices change, so does the quality of your life.

If you want to get time firmly on your side, I came up with these five steps that will help get you there:

1.Ask yourself, “What is my time perspective, and does it support me? Are you in the past, present or future when confronted with a challenge? And is that perspective working?

2. If your time perspective doesn’t support you, you can change it. Check out Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habit. His flowchart on habit change can show you how. You can find it here:  Flowchart on Habit Change

3. Find the sweet spot between the things that have worked in the past, and your planning and preparation for the future. If you need help with this, The Time Audit Protocol will answer that question. In the meantime, you can simply observe what is working for you right now, and what isn’t. Then act on that observation.

4. Ask better questions. Know your goal, outcome, the thing you want to get or the thing you want to get done, and find the best method to get there. For example, what are the key questions that shape your day?

5. When are you at your best? Morning, afternoon, or evening? Make key decisions during those times, and if you can delay fixing a problem till your best performance time, the faster you will solve it.

That’s it for now. I hope these five steps helped, and may time be ever on your side!

Until next time,

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Books That Make A Difference

talent codeDid you ever read a book that made bells ring and light bulbs go off in your brain? Well, the latest hit for me comes from a book written by Daniel Coyle entitled, The Talent Code. The Talent Code does something that a lot of books in this genre does not do – it explains a complex topic in a way that makes it easy to understand, and the advice immediately actionable. So here is the list of my top 5 big takeaways from this book:

  1. Whenever you do something your brain sends a signal along a chain of nerve fibers. The more you send the signal, the more the nerve fibers fire.
  1. There is a sheath around the nerve fibers that develops when you fire them called myelin. The more you do something (practice) the more you automate it by your body developing and thickening the myelin sheath. That sheath regulates speed, duration and intensity of the signals. It is basically the blue print for when, why, how hard, how much and how long to do or to think anything.

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