To contact Gika Rector, call 713.213.7643 or send e-mail.

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Practice Towards Mastery

I’ve been running a little experiment lately. After reading about mastery and taking a couple of drawing classes, I still don’t like the way I draw. Reading about mastery did nothing for my drawing, but it did encourage practicing. So, I’ve been practicing. Almost every morning, I start my day with a practice that Julia Cameron calls “morning pages”. Before you read or check your email or listen to the news, you sit down and write three pages. Three pages about whatever comes to mind, no matter how serious, silly, redundant or irrelevant. When I start my day with morning pages, somehow the day goes better.coffee

Several weeks ago I added a practice. At the end of the writing, I draw my coffee cup. It’s always there. It has a simple shape and so it shouldn’t be that difficult to draw. I usually spend only about 5 minutes on the drawing, because I’m not yet patient enough to take more time with it. I’ve learned enough to know that I have a lot to learn—and not just about drawing. But here’s the good news: this morning’s rendering looks a little better than yesterday’s. It’s not quite as lopsided as previous versions, and something about the handle is beginning to look more like a handle.

I’ve read that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery. I haven’t done the math, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to achieve mastery of drawing—not even if I continue drawing my coffee cup. But I’m getting a little better. If I can improve how my hand and eye work to represent this object, then I expect I’ll be able to draw some other things I’m interested in such as faces and figures. And if I don’t do some sort of practice, I’ll never get there. The experiment was a success: After spending just 5 minutes a day over a few weeks, the mechanics of drawing have gotten to be more fun. My hand and eye are improving, so the each drawings are getting better and the process a bit easier.

I like it that my business—coaching, Feldenkrais and felt-making—can be considered a practice. Practice implies diligent work over time, learning, and increased proficiency, leading toward mastery. As I reflect back, I realize I’ve been practicing each of these disciplines in one form or another for decades. I’ve spent hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours honing my skills. Have I achieved mastery? That’s a difficult question to answer. Compared to where I started, I’ve reached a high level of skill in each aspect of my business. What I’ve learned along the way has improved my life and the lives of those with whom I work. Compared to what there is still to learn, I’m pleased to say that I can continue to explore and practice for the rest of my life without fear of running out of new discoveries.

Along the way, I’d like to celebrate successive approximations—the idea that we get closer and closer to our stated goal, and somewhere along the way, the difference between where we are and the goal is so small that it makes no practical difference. The discoveries all along the way have been fascinating, fun and useful to me and others. Practicing towards mastery, having questions and goals, is part of enjoying life, keeping us engaged and curious.

What would you like to master, or perhaps just improve? Is there something about it that you can practice even 5 minutes a day? How soon would you like to start?

If you’re feeling stuck, I’d love to help you move forward. I offer personal coaching, movement lessons (group and private), and workshops. Email me Gika Rector or call me at 713-213-7643.

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