Monday, August 15, 2011

Acting "as if"

"How I live my life, that is my teaching"
- Mahatma Gandhi


One of the beautiful things about farming are the moments of intense thoughtfulness that come with each task.  A goal is set i.e. prep a bed pull a bed, seed a bed, etc., the proper tools are gathered and the task is mapped out, then the work begins.  In these moments there is the need to find balance and focus.  Wandering thoughts come and go trying to break my concentration, thoughts of the future, reminders of the past, yet it's always important to come back to the task at hand and ensure that I am doing what I need to do and to do it well.  Recently I was working in the greenhouse in the late afternoon, there is something incredible about this "4 O'Clock" sun that puts a golden glisten on everything it touches as you can see above.  I've found that my best work gets done extra early in the morning and extra late in the afternoon.  Even if I'm having a sluggish midday and I think that I'm too tired to do good work, all of a sudden the sun begins its descent and a newfound energy arises in me.  This must be the nocturnal cityboy in me acting up again.  This particular afternoon, I caught myself in a familiar thought, something that I remember motivating me throughout my basketball days practicing alone late at night when all the coaches and players were home and it was just me and the game.  I started thinking about...

how well I was doing my task, how would I be doing this if someone was there watching me?  Would I be working harder or more meticulously?  Would I be doing this better?  What if the person who taught me was watching me or better yet, what if the master of this was watching me?  The question always comes up, am I doing this to the best of my ability or am I taking shortcuts because no one is around?

But why wouldn't I be doing my best all the time?  The saying goes, "practice makes perfect," but a long time ago I heard someone tweak it just a bit to "perfect practice makes perfect."  Now obviously perfection is unattainable, but then again we always need something to work towards.  In basketball we always used to motivate with practicing at "game speed."  The concept is simple, act as if.  take on practice as if it were the big game.  Practice didn't mean working any less, if anything practice was the time to work harder so the intensity of the games would become more manageable.  I don't think you can just wait for the spotlight and the large crowd to turn it on, instead have it on all the time.  Now, as with most sayings...

these ideas are definitely easier said than done, but it definitely helps motivate me to at least strive towards practicing at "game speed" all the time and when I find myself slacking or wanting to rush to the end I look back and remember this idea.  When I think about the greats in the world, in all industries, I think I'm drawn most to those that spend the most time at their craft and I think they spend that much time because they want to spend that time, not because someone is telling them to and therefore it's not work.  I can't imagine doing something great, yet dreading every minute I am doing it.

Why make the big moment such a steep climb if instead it can be easier.  Once we leave the comfort of our parent's homes and the classrooms there really isn't always someone there to watch over us and check our homework.  That accountability has become a personal responsibility and in farming, there's no time to take any plays off.  Food needs to be harvested every week the farm, like any championship team, is only as good as the quality of its product.


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