When practice doesn’t make perfect

We’ve all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect,” haven’t we? I think I heard it most when I was being told to practice piano as a kid. For those who don’t know, I actually took lessons for almost a decade. But that’s not the point.

It’s occurred to me several times recently that practice doesn’t make perfect. At least not what that phrase implies. To me it implies that if we keep trying, we will get better. But what if we keep practicing doing something wrong? I guess in that instance the phrase still holds true…we are perfect at being imperfect. Not really something I strive for, do you?

I remember when I was first learning to drive. My dad was my first teacher then I took official driver’s education courses at a local high school. I quickly learned that I had been practicing a few things and had perfected doing them the wrong way. I still fight some of those habits today, what…almost 20 years later?

This concept hit me recently at basketball practice. I am a part of a wheelchair basketball team called the NWA Wild Wheels. I can’t play right now because of a technical wheelchair issue, but I still support the team and try to get shooting practice in when I can (which isn’t often, unfortunately). Anyways, I mentioned to the guys that I wish we had access to a clinician who could teach us more about wheelchair basketball. I wanted to learn how to shoot and do it right. They keep telling me that all I need to do is keep practicing and I’ll get it, but I realized that I would never become a good shot if I kept practicing doing it wrong! I guess one could say I am perfecting air balls, eh?

I think this is also true in relationships. In this day and age, it’s unfortunately not uncommon for people to be going into multiple consecutive marriages or serious relationships. I’ve actually known people who got a lot of advice from friends as they rushed from one relationship to another and they got huffy saying something like “we’ve both done this before, we know what we’re doing!” Um, yeah.

I think this idea of practicing doing things the right way should not only be considered in our own lives but when we look to others for an example. I know I have screwed this up more times than not! I’ve found myself thinking someone was a good example to follow or to look to for advice because they had a lot of experience doing something. It never occurred to me until later that the reason they were so good at doing that one thing is that they never found success and were able to move on.

So what are you practicing today? Are you practicing doing it right?

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