My 13-year-old son Magnus plays the cello. He has been playing for 4 years and I can tell that he has a natural talent for it. But he doesn’t typically practice the way you need to to Rumplestilskin your raw straw talent into golden skill.
Last week, I tried a different approach to Magnus’ practice routine. I asked him to tell me what he thought an effective practice schedule looks like. He said, ‘I should play all 3 of my songs for the week twice every day. And I should listen to my songs once every day.’ Like everyday people.
While I thought playing the songs twice seemed too light, I wanted his practice plan to be driven by him. So I overruled my judgy internal objection and sustained his proposal.
Following our discussion, something interesting happened. Magnus followed his own prescription for a successful week of cello practice. While it was not Yo-Yo Ma level, The Yo-Yo Magnus approach got good results.
Last night Magnus had his cello lesson. He had the best lesson ever. It happened because he followed his own formula for success. And his formula was self-prescribed at a strength he felt he could sustain for a week. Which is the best way to start. Then, as you enjoy the return on your time invested you are more likely to increase the input to enjoy an even better output.
Practicing is the key to self-improvement. But the key to getting yourself to practice is spelling out what you think appropriate practice should look like in your world. Create a plan that works with your timing, your energy and your desired outcome. Once you have set your own plan based on those criteria, you are more likely to follow through and enjoy the return on your invested time.
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