Practice the Noun

Day 140 Week 21 Q2 Sunday, May 19, 2024

Most of the time when we speak of practice, we are talking about a verb, not a noun. We talk about practicing the piano practicing playing golf practicing shooting hoops practicing anything we’re trying to get good at.  then again we speak of doctors practicing medicine and lawyers, practicing law and meditators practicing meditation.

But in addition to the verb, doctors and lawyers and meditators have a practice. Do you have a practice? Having a practice is very different than having a goal. It could be a goal to have a practice, but it cannot be a practice to have a goal, as this does not make sense for having a practice is about focusing on the path not on the destination.

Having a practice is about mastery. And mystery is inherently goalless. Achieving a goal as a momentary accomplishment, having a practice is a lifelong commitment. There is a vast difference between the two. If you have a practice, that is a noun that has been a habituated behavior, then you have a pretty good chance of maintaining it. If it is not habituated, and you have to try very hard every time you do it, eventually, other distractions and crises will overwhelm your practice, but if it is a habit that you feel compelled to perform or else something will feel amiss, then you were going to keep on doing it. And the more you keep on doing it, the better you get it and the more habituated it becomes until it becomes second nature.

If you want to get really good at something, it helps very much to have a practice more than to simply practice. I suppose if you practice the verb, for long enough, it might become a practice, the noun.. At least there is a reasonable chance. But hopefully, it is more than willpower. That is driving you to have a practice. Hopefully, it is a passion and a natural outcome of pursuing something you really badly want to pursue, not in order to achieve a goal, but because it is inherent.

So the next time you feel like saying, oh, I have to go and practice, instead say to yourself, I am working on my practice, and it is part of my identity.

It is strange how a word can have more than one meaning. but words matter, and context matters, and drilling down a little bit deeper, almost always matters.

Practice the Noun.