Practice Does NOT Make Perfect

20 years ago my kung fu teacher told me about a wrestling coach who had a sign in his office that said something like:

Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Practice makes permanent.

I’ve tried to put this into practice, and there have been successes, like yoga. There have been far more failures, pretty much the rest of my life.

For years, I failed, and failed, and failed, and could not give you a reason why. I’m reasonably bright, diligent and hard working when needed, yet I couldn’t gain traction on so many important things.

It is only in the last few months that I’ve begun to understand the causes underlying decades of failure; depression and ADHD.

One of the odd symptoms of ADHD is intense focus; if I’m enjoying something, nothing can take me from it. Several years ago, my fitness tracker showed I didn’t move for over four straight hours, as I worked on something interesting. Unfortunately, this is balanced by, “Look, squirrel” for anything I’m not enjoying.

When the depression settles in, nothing is enjoyable. I call it “the grey mist of depression” because that is the feeling; stuck in a cold, cloying, impenetrable fog, feeling the warmth and happiness being sucked out.

Time and again, I would start to gain traction with consistent, good practice. I’d begin to see progress, and then the depression hit, nothing was enjoyable, and I’d be knocked back to the beginning.

Start again.

Get depressed again.

Get knocked back again.

It is only now, applying the method of small disciplines to one thing at a time, of 1% improvement, showing up every day until a habit forms, that I think I can finally begin to map out a pathway forward.