The Happiness Connection  

Practice makes... success

What are you good at?

You might think about work skills, like sales or negotiation. Perhaps your mind goes to leisure time and you think about a sport or craft. How about music? Maybe your mind is drawn to domestic chores. I know I’m good at doing laundry.

Why are you good at these things? I suspect one reason is because you’ve had a lot of practice. When you repeat an activity, regardless of what it is, you are almost guaranteed to get better at it.

I have never had a desire to be a top-notch mirror cleaner – and yet I am. Sometimes I do a less admirable job, but if my house was being filmed for a magazine spread, that mirror would be immaculate.

You probably practice a lot of skills. Even if you don’t have any desire to get better at them, you undoubtedly will if you do them often enough.

With that knowledge in mind, why do so many people fail to gain new areas of expertise, even though their desire is strong?

I know a lot of people who would love to meditate. They believe it is a good practice to develop. That doesn’t stop them from declaring it is impossible without even trying, or giving up after a couple of attempts. 

Did I ever stop to consider whether my mirror polishing abilities were advancing or not? Never. I just cleaned the mirrors because I was tired of looking at myself through toothpaste splatters.

There lies the difference.

I didn’t stop to consider whether I was getting better or not, I just kept doing it. Of course, I did get more efficient and more skillful. After all, if I am going to take the time to clean the mirrors, I might as well make sure my reflection sparkles. 

When you want to achieve something, you probably spend as much time judging your improvement and evaluating your progress as you do practising the skill. That gives you all the evidence you need to get discouraged and give up.

Humans tend to practice things they have a natural talent for and shy away from the challenges.

I lack hand-eye co-ordination and an ability to understand what my body is doing. When I took golf lessons, it took watching a recording of myself to grasp how my swing was different to that of the pro. 

When someone tells me to copy what they are doing, it is like they are speaking to my brain in a foreign language.

Perhaps I should have spent my childhood improving my basic physical skills like throwing and catching. Did I? Of course not. I immersed myself in playing music and singing. I was naturally good at those things.

What aren’t you very good at? Would any of the things on your list be beneficial for you to learn.

Let’s choose networking as an example. This is something I find challenging. If I was known by most of the local business community, I’m sure I would be able to help more people and my business would expand.

How can I improve my networking confidence and skills? By going to networking events. 

If I went to every event, regardless of how out of place and awkward I felt, I would eventually become both a great networker and have an expanded business network. There is no doubt this would be beneficial.

The real question is, am I willing to do that?

I have made weak attempts to achieve this in the past. I call them weak, because after one or two agonizing experiences, I examined the results and decided I wasn’t getting anywhere. Then I gave up.

I wasn’t willing to put in the practice time.

I’ve been writing this column for over three years. I had already written two books when I was invited to become a columnist, so I had some skills. 

When I look back at my progress from my first contribution to now, I see incredible improvement. I write more quickly, I am more concise, I trust that an idea will come to me before my deadline, and I have grown in confidence.

That is the result of weekly practice. I made a commitment, and I don’t stop every week to question whether I should quit or not.

If you want to master a skill, you need to commit to the long haul. Stop allowing yourself the option of giving up. Spend less time evaluating your progress. Have an annual review rather than a weekly one.

If it is something you want, just do it, and then do it some more. Don’t let giving up be an option. Of course, there will be times when you feel discouraged, but don’t let that stop you.

Success lies in hardcore practice. There are no shortcuts. 

“There is no glory in practice, but without practice there is no glory.”

— Unknown

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at, or

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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