Practice makes perfect, and practice can get in the way of playing. Yes, it’s important to develop some skills and experience. And, we need to put them into live action to get results.

The value of jumping into action came home to me from my recent foray into learning the ukulele. You see, I’m musically challenged. I dropped out of piano lessons after three months in third grade. Why? I couldn’t keep up with the notes. I was trying to think my way through playing. Both my teacher and I lost patience, and I gave up on playing the piano.

What I’m noticing now as I learn the ukulele offers insights for how to learn and perform better in other areas of life. See how the following can help you pursue new opportunities and have more fun playing.

  1. Learn a few skills, and put them into practice.

Don’t try to master the whole playbook before you start to play something. Learning occurs best as a series of invitations or challenges to understand something and then put it into practice. How can you break up what you are trying to learn into bite-size pieces and see what you can learn from trying them?

  1. Start playing to have your learning become practical and fun.

Our ukulele instructor had us playing songs in the very first class. The experience quickly showed me what I knew and what I needed to improve.

  1. Play with other learners, especially those who are a cut above your level of play.

Whether it’s music or tennis, playing with someone a cut above stretches us. It helps us experience what we can become next with further practice and play.

  1. Up tempo your play to get out of your mind.

Our ukulele instructor not only got us playing songs in the first class. He also turned the tempo of the songs up to full speed after only one practice try. Of course, I struggled to keep up and flubbed a bunch of notes. Since I couldn’t keep up by thinking through the notes, I began to feel the rhythm and hear the chord changes. These tapped other parts of my mind. They helped me play more fluidly and have more fun.

  1. Discover what you need to know.

When I do the steps above, I discover what I need to learn further and gain the motivation to pursue it. It’s not abstract. Rather, it’s an adventure to figure out how to solve the challenging next piece of the puzzle.

  1. Have a good coach who throws you in the “deep end of the pool,” (but doesn’t let you drown).

It’s tough to create the self-motivation and commitment to keep going on one’s own. A good coach, one who knows what you are trying to learn and has your best interests at heart, stimulates the confidence and conviction critical for success.

  1. Keep jamming and having fun!

Play with a range of different people and groups. They will stretch your learning in different ways and help you become a more agile and accomplished player in whatever realm you choose (work, hobbies, etc.). Most of all, play with people you enjoy and with whom have fun playing.

We learn best when we are having fun. So, indulge yourself and thrive.

Photo Credit: Copyright: eric1513 / 123RF Stock Photo

About Don Maruska

As a founder and CEO of three Silicon Valley companies, venture investor, and recipient of the National Innovators Award, Don writes, speaks, and coaches from a broad base of experience » Learn More

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