Friday, December 9, 2011

Taking Advantage of Every Opportunity

I was hemming some draperies tonight. I’ve done that before. In fact, I made lots of my clothes when I was in my teens.

If that’s not interesting enough, think of this: the practice of a competency is just about as thrilling.

It occurred to me as I threaded the needle several times that my focus on such a small item as a needle and thread plus the knot required undivided attention to my task. Just like practicing mastery (so says George Leonard in “Mastery”).

I’m going to take practicing at face value. Practicing is essential in order to become at least proficient (consciously competent) at anything. I recall the remark by a new skier who was struggling nearby in a skiing class (I was in the class, too). He remarked “You mean I have to LEARN to do this?” I smothered a smile and wondered where that all came from. I practiced every minute and it was thrilling.

Here’s the lesson my ski classmate didn’t have in mind: First learn what there is to learn and then go out and practice it.

Coaching is a way of being (curious) first and foremost. So, at every opportunity why not practice being curious. As I threaded that needle and stitched my way along a series of drapery panels, I began to look at the stitches I was making and how they looked on both sides. I watched how many threads I usually picked up with the needle going in and thought about how nice this would all look when finished. I became curious again when I wanted to stop doing this task and wondered if I would stay with it … I did but not without some gentle prodding from my curious self.

So those two hours of hemming were a moment of opportunity that I stole from my evening in order to practice the fine art of being curious. And the result was worth it!

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