Alright, I confess. I've been watching the London Olympics for the past couple of weeks, along with practicing with Sheila for our next gig.

I watched an interview with Michael Phelps after his final Olympic event. This is what I heard him say. "I came here ready to accept the results of my preparation prior to the Olympics, and the results in my first couple of races were consistent with the preparation I had put in. I feel that accepting this experience as just enabled me to relax and do what I did in the later events."

 Here's what I took away as a lesson for me. When we perform, we are always doing our best on that day, given what we have put into preparation. Even if we prepare to the max we can still have a bad day. Being able to accept what happened and learn from it is a key to letting go of it and approaching the next event (song) with hope.

By and large, Olympic athletes don't quit. If they screw up they pick themselves up and come back with a better performance the next time. But remember, every one of them has put in hundreds if not thousands of reps in practice. 

I remember listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn, the great bluesman, talk about practicing until his fingers bled. I have taken practice that far and I don't recommend it--takes too long to heal--but it does speak to the results we can get when we are dedicated to practice.

Another important point: If we want to improve, we have to learn from experience.

Sheila is my role model. I tend to play through my song list and note the mistakes for future reference. Sheila wants to go over the song until we can do it smoothly without mistakes. This is a better method because we finish our practice with a mental movie of ourselves performing well. Repetition is our friend.

 

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