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I was walking through the Minnesota airport yesterday and noticed an advertisement in several spots.  It said, Practice makes Perfect.  I honestly don’t remember who or what the advertisement was for.  I just kept thinking about – practice makes perfect.    

I have been working with a client who is struggling to study for the GED.  She was upset that she had not paid attention more when she was in school.  She felt dumb.  She thought she would never get it now.  Her thoughts about the past, and what she should have done or could have done, were leaving her feeling defeated.  She would attempt to study, but then find herself upset and not able to focus.  She thought if she admonished herself enough about her past, she would be motivated to study more, but the opposite was true.  While she was beating herself up, she wasn’t paying attention.  She was recycling her past and her brain was helping her find evidence that she wasn’t going to get it!

Many of us look to our past to predict our future.  If you Google, there’s a lot of quotes out there that tell us this is what we should do. 

“The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”  This quote is often attributed to Mark Twain.

How about this one – “A leopard’s spots never change.”  I believe this may be a quote from the Bible.

If practice makes perfect (which is a misnomer IMHO), how can these two quotes be true?  

If you want to create something new, you must think a thought you’ve never thought.  When my client was in high school, she didn’t know what she knows now. She was using her past to define her, and when you define yourself by your past, you’re going to create more of the past!

Imagine toddlers learning to walk – what if they never got up after the first fall?  Can you imagine if none of us walked?!  But we did the hard thing over and over regardless of how much it hurt, no matter the bumps and bruises – and we learned to walk!  


When we keep showing up for ourselves, even on a micro level, we will improve.  This is what practice makes perfect means.  The more you deliberately do something, you will get better at it. 

A way to think a thought you’ve never thought is to shift from thinking about the past to thinking about your future.  Get into the mindset of becoming and being the person that does the thing you are practicing for.  Imagine you are already that person.  How would that person think and feel and act?  Many of us don’t believe in our dreams because we think we must know the exact path to get there. You can’t know the exact path.  You’ve never done it before, and no one will do it exactly like you. 

Say goodbye to the past – it doesn’t serve you.  Practice being your future.  

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