The Power of Practice

Sep 26, 2011
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As a swimmer, I know how crucial practices are for my training; however, for some reason I never quite allowed this same concept to extend into other areas of my life—that is until now.

When I’m training for a competition or otherwise, I have taught myself to treat every practice session like it is the last and only one I will ever have. That way, I ensure that I make the very most of the experience: pushing my own limits, training good technique, focusing on a positive attitude, and enjoying every minute of it. In practice, I spend a lot of time dreaming about competition, being the end result of all of my zig-zagging in the pool at those cracks of dawns.

However, when not soaked in chlorine, I tend not to connect those same feelings and dedications to other aspects of my life—at least not as consciously.

About a month or so ago, I stumbled upon an application for a speaking engagement, which just so happened to be a speaking engagement that I had spent a lot of time dreaming about in recent months. Now, I am not a public speaker of any sort, but I’d like to be. So with that said I submitted the application with a weary smile, never really expecting anything to come of it.

A few weeks later, I received an email for a phone interview. From the phone interview, I received an email congratulating me on presenting at a TEDx event later in the month.

And so it was. I began by writing my speech—the easy part. I can write about 800 speeches in one single day, but giving just one single speech was going to be another task entirely.

I started practicing. I practiced in the car. I practiced in front of my bathroom mirror. I practiced with friends. I practiced while making copies at the copy machine. I practiced while swimming. I practiced while dreaming. I practiced with my personal trainer. I practiced while hanging laundry.

I practiced a lot.

But even with all of the practice and all of the preparations, I was still unclear as to how all of this speaking stuff would work once I got to the venue that night. I was confident that I knew exactly what to say, but far less confident in how I was going to say it. Of course I believed in the words that I was speaking, but there was some sort of further level to it that I wasn’t quite sure about how to practice.

However, it all came together and my practicing paid off. I had trained and trained for that moment, to the point that there was no other emotion to feel but prepared. After a few stretches and deep breaths in the corner, it was my turn to take my practice and put it to work.

I gave my speech with the confidence and love that I put into my swims, which left me wondering about how to implement this skill of practicing into more aspects of my life. Where there is practice, there is truly dedication and love. I am now determined to find this part of me far more often anywhere that I can.

Author: Ryan McLean



  • BobLujano

    Practice makes perfect. Ryan, I hope you stay in the public speaking world. You’ve got a bright future ahead of you.