If there is one thing I learned from my countless hours spent in a practice room while pursuing my music degree, it is that practicing what you already know is a waste of time. Sure, playing what you’ve mastered is fun, it feeds your ego, and it makes you feel good, but if you want to improve in anything, you’ve got to get down and dirty with the stuff that challenges you, frustrates you, and seems like it’s just out of reach. You must be willing to be the novice, to fail, to look foolish, and to fall and get back up again. To get better at anything, you have to practice what you aren’t good at.
But what’s so wrong with being awkward, inept, ungraceful, or inexperienced anyway? Who decided failure was a bad thing? Why feel embarrassment when you can feel pride for pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone?
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill
Here five strategies to help you not only embrace opportunities to practice what you aren’t good at, but to appreciate your weaknesses and spend more time in your discomfort zone:
1. Change your thoughts.
At the root of everything lies our thoughts, and if there is anything we have total control over it is how we use them to perceive the world. Notice when limiting thoughts come up and work to reframe them. “I’m awful at this,” for instance, can become, “this is challenging me.” Limiting thoughts don’t have to limit YOU, this is your chance to use your power
2. Change your approach.
Take challenging opportunities, and step into discomfort knowing that you will come out the other side stronger and wiser. See opportunities around you and TAKE THEM. Don’t hold yourself back, this is your chance to move forward.
3. Stay Present.
Whenever you find yourself caught in your discomfort zone, stay present and be self-aware. Notice where your thoughts are, notice how your body feels, notice what your instincts and habits are. Realize that in this moment is your chance to change.
4. Be the Beginner.
Anyone who ever did anything had to start as a beginner. The greatest people who have walked the earth were once, not so great. Which means that whatever it is that you are currently not-so-great at has the same potential to be as great as all the great things that great people did. Be willing to be the newbie, this is your chance to start something.
5. Recognize yourself.
Never get down on yourself for trying something new or for working on your challenges – no matter how clumsy you may feel. The fact that you were willing to get uncomfortable and to step into uncertainty deserves some self-recognition. Doing and failing is better than not doing at all, this is your chance to see what you’re made of.
This week I challenge you to challenge yourself. Do the hard stuff, start what you’ve been avoiding, tackle the obstacles in your path.
Chances are, you’ll be great.