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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How Do You Know?

DSC02109You know that Justin Bieber song, “What do you mean? When you nod your head yes, but you wanna to say no? What do you mean?…” In the song, the Beebs is asking for clarity. So it is kinda funny — to me anyway — that the background music of that song is playing in my mind when I ask, “How do you know?” as in “How do you know which goal to go after?”

It was about last night. I was having an interesting conversation with a girlfriend of mine framed by some tasty beverages and yummy food. She is a smart, savvy girl who works really hard. She works at her job, she works making her household hum, and she works on making sure her children have the best childhood experience possible. She sounds like a lot of moms that I have the privilege to know. Our conversation drifted and meandered, as they sometimes do, and landed on the subject of goals. Why? It’s a new year and goals are on our brains like an egg sizzling in a pan. We may turn off the direct heat, but the egg continues to cook. Same thing. New year’s day has passed, but we are still cooking. How about you? Are you still thinking about how to make this year THE year?

As I headed home from the restaurant, it was goals, goals, and more goals. I was stuck on goals: How to choose them, how to support them, and how to redirect them if necessary. The topic has many layers of meaning, because as I thought about our chat, I recognized that goals are proxies for something much more important than attaining the goal itself. Our goals are tied to our identity, and who we see ourselves as when we achieve that goal.

If I am an Olympic Champion that means I am ______________________.

If I made over a million dollars in sales that means I am ____________________.

If I climbed Mt. Everest that means I am ___________________________.

You can fill in the blank for any goal that means something to you. The truth is in the excitement and pride you feel on the other end of the goal. It is in the successful creation and attainment of your goals that your identity is revealed to you and to others.

Truth“Our goals are tied to our identity,and who we see ourselves as when we achieve that goal.”

Take a look at the infographic to the right. How willing are you to do what is necessary to achieve success? The answer is another question. How badly is your identity tied to that outcome? So I am wondering, what outcome do you want this year? And how do you know which goals to choose to make that outcome happen?

Here are my five steps for goal selection:

  1. What is most important to you? Remember Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs? If you don’t, click on the link for a quick instalook. I wouldn’t get too caught up on the idea that you have to satisfy one need before you can pay attention to the other. Instead, I would look at the pyramid as a guide to what is most important to you for this year. Is it world domination? Is it love from a significant other? Is it to be healthier, so that you have energy for the people and adventures that matter most to you?
  2. Pick a few preliminary goals. Now that you have an area. You need to pick a few goals that you can really identify with. That means that if you achieved these goals, you would be excited about who you are and proud of what you have accomplished.
  3. Identify if there are any conflicts with your goals by doing my version of the wheel of life. It’s free and you can click wheelhouse to get it. This exercise rates your satisfaction in four key areas. Then you evaluate whether your preliminary goals conflict with the other areas in your life that are important to you. If this exercises revealed a goal that is important to you, add it to the list.
  4. Narrow Your Choices Down by choosing a target date of 90 days into the future. If you can’t realistically achieve the goal in 90 days remove it from the list. If you find that a goal is really important to you, and you don’t want to remove it  break it down into achievable 90 day mini-goals.
  5. Make your final decision based on impact. Which of the goals left will give you the greatest level of satisfaction, and by achieving it, will make life a whole lot better for you? Choose that goal.

I hope my Five Steps for Goal Selection made the process of choice a little easier, gave you a bit more awareness about the process, and helped you to pick the right goal for you at this time in your life. If you have any questions, or need help, you can contact me at info@challengeyourvision.com, or head on over to challengeyourvision.com.

Remember you are so much more than who you believe yourself to be.

Until next time,

Christinephoto(22)

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A New Year, A New Life … Maybe

dreamstime_m_31165919It’s 2017 and my inbox is slammed with ways to help me make the most of this year. I have offers from almost every self development expert out there. Why? I love the industry, and as a coach, I want to learn the best tools available for myself and for my clients. Frankly, I know they are great people trying to do good works, and at this time of year, there is a huge opportunity to capitalize on the momentum and hope we feel that a new year will bring. I think, however, with all of their good intentions flowing into my inbox like the Colorado rapids, I get overwhelmed by choice. So I default to simple. First, can I create some space in my schedule to think, to reflect, and to breathe? I don’t know what to choose, but I want to choose something to do, to learn and to experience this year. But first, I just need some time to think. I had an amazing 2016 despite some personal heartache, but for some of us, it wasn’t so amazing at all. Maybe there was a death in the family, a loss of a friendship, unnecessary bickering, or a health challenge that has consumed our attention? Doesn’t it make sense that before we dive in, jump in with both feet, or take the plunge — what is it with these metaphors?? — we take a moment, and just be?

For me, I haven’t made any firm commitments with regard to goals, right now. Instead, I am slowly getting acclimated to the water. Testing the temperature, seeing what feels right, and laying the groundwork for what I have decided will be an amazing year for me and my family. I suppose you can call that “a resolution.” A resolution is a firm commitment, a decision to do or not to do something. So when we are talking about “resolutions” we are really talking about the commitment it takes to achieve the goals we want in our lives. No wonder only 45% of us will even declare a resolution according to the University of Scranton Study on Resolutions, December 2016. In that same study, they found that by the end of the year, only 8% out of the original 45% were successful at achieving their goals. If the past is a good predictor of the future, that doesn’t bode well for New Year’s Resolutions.

Maybe the reason why that number is so low is because we focus on the wrong thing. We decide to go after a goal, because it sounds good, or it would be nice if we did that, or got this. But we are not “resolute” in our attainment of the goal. Maybe a better way would be to give some thought to how we want to feel about our lives, how we want to feel about ourselves,  and how we want to feel about who we hang out with each day, before we choose a goal to be resolute about. Maybe then the 92% who make resolutions will become part of the 8% who make them a reality.

So if you are like me and want to take a moment to reflect, I have a free gift for you. I created a fun year in review that takes 15 minutes to do, and that you can do with your family. It will have you revisit the highlights of 2016, and will also get you thinking about what you may want to have happen in 2017. Click here for the download year-in-review1.

Have a great week! Time is on your side, and so am I!!

Until next time,

Christinephoto(22)

A Script for Early Onset Festivity Frazzle

ScreamingHave you experienced in the past or are experiencing now any of the following symptoms?

  • Feelings of distress associated with the burdens of entertaining?
  • Mild annoyance to outright hostility at any little thing?
  • Yelling at drivers who take “your” parking spot?
  • Anticipating dread from the story Aunt So and So has told every holiday for the past 15 years?
  • Inability to button your trousers or skirt that inevitably follow a holiday meal?
  • Lethargy and bloating from 3 pieces of your favorite pie, two servings of stuffing, or sampling every hors d’ouevre prior to the main meal?
  • Desire to create an exit strategy before you even arrive?

If you are having some or all of these symptoms, I can assure you that you are not alone. This list is a sample of symptoms that one can experience during this time of year, but are not representative of the entire emotional gamut one can experience when diagnosed with Festivity Frazzle. 🙂 But it is going to be okay.

Just like we have prescriptions from doctors to cure what ails us physically, I have found the best script to get you and me through this holiday season with our love and joy still in tact. Curious?  Download my free guide Hacking the Holidays to combat this dreaded bug during the Holiday Season.

I also wanted to mention something I feel is important to share. When I was twenty-five, my dad disappeared from my life. It felt like that. It felt intentional, even though, he died in the garage of our family home from a cardiac arrest/stroke. It wasn’t as if he planned it, but somehow it felt that way.

There wasn’t a chance for me to say good-bye, or to even have a conversation about what he meant to me. There wasn’t a chance to say anything at all. I couldn’t ask him questions like: “What was your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?” “What did you love doing when you were my age?” “What did it mean to you when you become a dad?”

I didn’t get a chance to introduce him to my beautiful daughters either, nor did they get the chance to meet my larger-than-life dad. I could show them the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” but even that, while hitting all the right notes, still seems like a poor substitute. I wish I had thought about this enough to have prepared for the time when he wouldn’t be around. How I wish now that I had a videotape, a recording, something more real than faded photographs, and anecdotes from “back in the day.”

When I learned about StoryCorp I was so excited to see how technology could be used to ease suffering like mine. The app is really simple to use. You simply interview a family member, friend, etc… with your own questions, or with questions that they have already prepared for you. You decide how long you want the interview to be, record the interview, and when you are finished, the App saves the interview in your library. You can even upload the recording to the Library of Congress for future generations to learn about that special someone.

I wish this program existed 25 years ago before my dad had passed, because then I would have the answers to the questions that I hadn’t thought to ask when he was sitting right in front of me, all those years ago. My daughters would hear first-hand his love of life, his gentleness, and his kindness toward others; AND I could visit with my dad whenever I needed some Daddy Time. What a gift that would be!

On this Thanksgiving, maybe it is time for all of us to ask those questions that we have been wondering about before it is too late. If not for yourself, do it for those who will come after you. Just click  on the StoryCorp name above. Sharing some love is just a click away.

With love and gratitude.

Until next time,

Christinephoto(22)

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