Practice Makes Progress
I grew up playing sports. Ever since I was a kid I played soccer, basketball, ran track, and one season of little league baseball (which is how I found out I desperately needed glasses. Thanks for realizing that the reason I missed every ball was because I couldn't see it, Mr. Davis!).
My favorite sport was always soccer. When I played recreation soccer my team would practice once - maybe twice a week if we were lucky. I wasn't a great player until I became a teenager and decided that I wanted to play on the high school team. I started practicing more frequently. I'd dribble and shoot the ball in the back yard, and practice using my left foot. I joined a competitive soccer league and played with a bunch of guys who played at a much higher level than I did. It pushed me outside my comfort zone, and helped me grow.
Then I tried out for the high school team. By some miracle I snuck under the bar and made the team. It was immediately obvious that I was out of my comfort zone. I was smaller, in worse shape, and had less experience than almost everyone on the team. I was nervous, but I decided to just show up every day and put in the work.
I've never improved so quickly. Being thrown onto a team where everyone was so much better, and expected me to be better, did wonders for my soccer skills. We practiced every day for hours. I got in shape. I learned skills like how to use my body to gain position, or how to time my runs to be the first one to the ball. I learned how to shoot with more power, and how to read the field and predict the best place to put the ball.
Every noticeable improvement in my skills over the years could really be traced back to the frequency, the level of intensity, and the intentionality of my practice.
You see where this is going, don't you?
When talking with Hank and Sueann, Hank mentioned something that has always stayed with me. He said,
In relationships, we practice at the level of the league we end up playing for.
In other words, if you always want to be playing in the relationship little leagues, it requires little effort. It's not hard to swipe right on tinder, or find casual hookups every few weeks. It's easy to walk away from something when it gets hard. It's easy to find excuses to not invest every day.
On the other hand, there are only a few people in the world who get to experience the World Series kind of love... but they're the ones who fall in love with the practice. They push themselves every day to be better. They work to push their partners to grow and improve. They watch each others backs and pick up each others slack without complaining. They swing for the fences when they're up to bat, and sprint to every base. There are no vacations. There are no days off. And they love it.
It's not necessarily a bad thing to want to play in the little leagues... but playing at this level, you'll never know the glory of the world series.
If you want that can't-eat, can't-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, World Series kind of love, you have to be willing to put in the practice.
What are some of the things you do regularly to put in the practice? What can you do to elevate your game?