I did not take a shortcut, therefore I can’t sell you one.
Application of the concept of right practice, the pursuit of excellence, or the process of formative lifestyle change/improvement applies to all areas of your life. Making this distinction and honestly engaging each aspect of your existence with these principles is a skill to be consciously employed.
“I appreciate greatness and I appreciate hard work. It’s something about devoting a piece of every day to something that’s far off that’s really inspiring to me. I know there are areas where I can improve, which gives me a lot of confidence that it’s not the peak for me.” Dylan Bowman – Professional Ultrarunner
Life is a process, not a product. Arrival is a myth. A cyclist’s thighs, a runner’s calves, a swimmer’s shoulders, a climber’s biceps are products of a lifelong process. There is no direct path. When the action stops, so does the appearance.
“Performance is about being your best and learning to do something better. Excellence does not come easily, nor is it automatic for even the most talented, highly-motivated individuals. Rather it stems from the desire to be really good at something and the discipline to make a lasting commitment.” – Connie Carpenter 1984 Gold Medal Cycling
Things take time. Recognize that as a beginner, today’s performance is not your best. The big unknown for most of us is how good, smart, strong, kind, loving, or successful we could be. Time being the limiting resource, must not be squandered.
“A performance gap is thereby delineated with maximum specificity between the performance system subject to premature failure and the image of purpose. By employing the force of will, moment to moment, to sustain the training exercise past such points of premature microsystemic failure, the performance of that particular episode of exercise is enhanced.” Michael Livingston – Mental Discipline
Have you ever asked yourself why you are tired? Why you aren’t motivated? Have you ever been upset by a performance, grade, or result? What made you upset? Did your preparedness warrant a better result? How would you know? Learn this term: FORCE OF WILL. Apply it regularly. It’s not unique, heroic, spartan, stoic, or any other form of “elite” behavior. It’s simply necessary given the brevity of life.
Cultivate your general image of purpose. Mind – work. Body – health. Soul – relationships. Continually re-prioritize as needed. We have 100% to give, therefore, the distribution of resources/energy must flow where most needed. Maturity allows this to happen.
“The purpose of walking the path is not to attain some final destination but simply to progress ever further along that path.” Chogyam Trungpa – Meditation in Action
Your actions, repeated, define your practice. Specificity and intensity enhance purpose, making the practice more effective. The ego distorts purity of practice. Product-oriented pursuits serve the ego, seeking some objectified result to be achieved through that practice. There is no purity of practice. No commitment to the process.
Use the analogy of a challenge, event or competition requiring total commitment. The purpose must possess a process orientation. This process orientation to the image of purpose, in turn, has two dimensions: intention and direction. The force of will acts on the mind in two ways. First, the mind must be directed, toward some conceptual goal. Second, the mind must be propelled or animated to move in that direction. Let the mind feed the body.