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Beating the Odds

The Strangest Resolution You’ll Ever Make

The more you talk with people who really know what they’re doing, the more a theme emerges.
Not how big theirs is (though that can often be true), but how much they try to put it aside during practice and performing.
From stand-up comedians to author/poets to drama teachers, highly skilled people try to get themselves out of the way.
“My goal before practice,” said a comedian who is a regular in Las Vegas, “is to become as mindless as possible.”
(She should ask me. I have no trouble being mindless, especially when it comes to where my car keys are.)
All kidding aside, if you want to achieve anything great in this or any year, you might make a resolution to lose your mind.
Not all the time, of course. But when you’re learning and performing, you want to get yourself out of the way. When practicing, let the feedback come in. When performing, let the skill flow out.
Ego is the common thread in practice and performance. Thoughts get in the way, none of them useful.
“How do I look?”
“What will people think of me?”
Or, even more significantly, “What will I think of myself?”
These questions lead to the Ego Paradox.
To go into the arena without ego, with nothing to lose, not caring what others think, can give you the performance of a lifetime.
To get to that level of skill, however, you must drill, drill, drill. You practice getting it right until you can’t get it wrong. But what’s driving all that practice? Your ego!
So your ego is pushing you to have no ego.
We can leave that paradox to philosophers, psychologists, etc.
On a practical level, the key to getting good at what you do is to practice without ego.
This is hard. Really hard. I see it in my gym every day. When my athletes make a mistake, they act like they’re in a soap opera. They cover their face with their hands. They let their shoulders slump in despair. They make exclamations of frustration and disgust — “Ugh.” I tell them that they must replace their “ughs” with Hmms.” Instead of suffering over the mistake, they can use the feedback it gives.
So here’s the real secret of getting the most out of practice: It doesn’t matter how awkward or inept you feel. It doesn’t matter if others are doing better than you are. If you can get your ego out of the way and accept feedback, you will get better. And the more you can get your ego out of the way, the more you will improve.
Here’s wishing you a 2023 in which you lose your mind!!!


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