virgin islands scene

It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows.
-- Epictetus


Thursday, January 2, 1997


There’s no such thing as natural touch.
Touch is something you create by hitting
millions of golf balls.
                     -- Lee Trevino

Have you ever wondered why we have to practice in order to become good at something? After all, we already know how to do it. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to practice in the first place. Why do we need to practice over and over again?

The reason we practice is primarily to convince ourselves that we can do it.

This struck me the other day while learning to play a piano piece by Beethoven. There was one passage that I just could not get right. My eyes could see the notes on the score. My fingers could reach all the keys in the right sequence. But I just could not put it all together. Then it hit me -- the reason I couldn’t play it was because I didn’t think I could. So I took my fingers off the keyboard, closed my eyes, and played the passage perfectly -- in my mind. Slowly at first, mentally hitting every key in perfect sequence, then faster and faster until I could visualize myself playing it perfectly at the correct tempo. Then I opened my eyes and tried it on the real keyboard and found that I was able to play it without a problem. Now I can roll right through that part without even thinking about it.

My eyes didn’t need the practice. My fingers didn’t need the practice. Only my mind needed practice. There are many things that we know how to do, but we don’t know we know how to do them. Practice is our way of convincing ourselves. There’s a big difference between believing we can do it, and knowing we can do it. Belief is relatively easy. Knowing takes practice. When we’ve practiced enough to convince ourselves, then we have it.

— Ralph Marston

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Copyright ©1997 Ralph S. Marston, Jr. All Rights Reserved. The Daily Motivator is provided for your personal, non-commercial use only. Other than personal sharing, please do not re-distribute without permission.