Practice

conquering steep climb fear

I was swimming at the local pool, and was envious of all the people diving off the high dive. I knew I was afraid of heights, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to try it.

I climb the ladder, get to the top, and look down.

I can’t jump. I’m coming down.

I must’ve been 7 or 8 years old. I haven’t been on another high dive since.


I’m 20 years old and I’m working as a security guard in on of the tallest buildings in downtown Seattle. This one happens to be 63 stories high, and during training, my supervisor takes me to the rooftop.

I step outside and I’m frozen with fear. I see the top of buildings and am clearly above the entire city, except for the building across the street from me, which is around 75 stories high. I immediately get down on my knees and my supervisor is laughing at me, but I don’t care.

I’m crawling close to the ground, and every once in awhile I sneak a peek at the entire city. The height has unleashed my fear, and I’m desperate to leave.

We head towards the stairs, and lock the door behind us. I feel like I just landed on blessed Earth, and for a moment I’m grateful, but I know I have to come back. Not because it’s my job, but because I have to conquer my fear. I just have to do it.


The next time I go up, my fear returns, but I do less crawling this time. I go to the far edge and peek over. It’s tough but I hold it for a few moments longer. I head back towards the door, low to the ground, but at least I’m not crawling.

I’m making progress.

This continues. I go up, walk low to the ground, peek over the edge, stay a few minutes longer than the last time, and head back.

Eventually, I’m fearless walking on the rooftop, looking at this beautiful city from every angle I can, taking pictures, and finally enjoying the scenery. I’m became comfortable with my uncomfortableness until it finally left.

I feel alive.

Practice

It’s funny what a consistent practice can do. It can transform fear into love, take someone with low skills to mastery, deepen learning, and develop stronger relationships.

Practice.

Einstein once said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Who knows what context he was speaking in, but I’d like to amend his quote:

Practice: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I’m reminded of the story of an old preacher. He told a riveting sermon to his congregation, and people spoke about it all week. The next week, he told the same sermon and people were equally inspired. But he wasn’t done. He decided to tell it again, and again, and again.

For 3 months he told the same sermon to his congregation, until finally one of his deacons approached him and asked, “Excuse me Pastor, you do realize that you’ve been repeating the same sermon every week for the past 3 months?? People are concerned.”

“Yes, I do realize that and I’ll stop telling the same sermon, over and over again, when people actually GET IT.”

Practice eliminates hypocrisy, too.

I was playing basketball at a local rec center. I had a decent shot, and was snatched up by one of the teams. The guy I was guarding was quick, a little faster than me, but had one additional skill I didn’t have. He could make a shot from just about anywhere, in just about any situation. To put it another way, he was schooling me.

We played a few games, and when it was over, I had to ask him, “Where did you learn to shoot like that?”

“I shoot a thousand jumpers a day,” he said, “I usually have someone with me when I practice. They throw me the ball, and then run toward me trying to stop me from making the shot. I do this a thousand times, then I’m done.”

Damn.

Practice makes you awesome, too.

People come to see me all the time looking to get their lives back in order. The first thing I ask them is what they do with their time. I pull out a blank schedule, and ask them to fill in what they did for the last week.

One time, a woman was shocked to see how much TV was occupying her time. I then asked her a question she’ll never forget.

“What do you practice each and every day?”

She thought for a good 20 seconds and said, “I don’t practice anything, really.”

“Oh, that’s not true. Looks like you’re pretty good at watching TV.”

She laughed, cause she thought I was joking. I just looked into her eyes, and then she got it.

“I need to change that,” she finally said.

“Unless you’re satisfied with what you have,” I said making sure she was aware of her options.

“No. I need to change.”

Practice leads to crappy results, too.

What’s your practice?

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’m like that cranky old preacher.

What are you doing with your life everyday? Because you’re practicing something, and whatever it is, you’re getting better at it.

It’s all good if you’re getting better at the right things, but what if you’re getting better at the wrong things? Who determines right and wrong? You do. Just be honest with yourself.

For now, I’m practicing my writing. In a few, I’ll be practicing some eating and maybe relax my mind with a movie.

Tomorrow, I’ll be practicing writing some more, doing some business practice for the magazine, some exercise practice, maybe some yoga practice.

What about you?

If you’re satisfied with what you have or your current results, maintain the practice. But if you want to get better at something, if you want different results, you’d better practice that.

How else are you gonna get there?

Paul

Practice: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.