5 reasons to embrace the power of repetition
For many years I focused my efforts on learning as much as I was able. Believing that would be the best strategy to move me forward in life.
It helps of course that I’m a naturally curious person and I enjoy studying new ideas. So I’ve always got my head in a new book, or researching a new topic that has caught my interest. But recently I’ve seriously questioned whether this quest for breadth of knowledge and experience is the right answer?
Would I have been better to have channeled my efforts into going into greater depth?
There may not be a right answer. It may be as wide as it is long. However my most recent studies have led me back to the power of repetition.
The example of Bruce Lee
Like a lot of kids growing up in the 80’s I was a big Bruce Lee fan. While he is best known for his martial arts skill I was particularly taken in by his views and mindset. I looked to him as a great philosopher. His words introduced me to many concepts including the power of repetition. Which all these years later I’m still studying.
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”
In a bid to follow in Bruce’s footsteps I took up Wing Chun lessons. The martial art he was well known to have studied.
Of course he studied other disciplines, which each influenced his own fighting style through his philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. (Jeet Kune Do is often confused as a martial art in itself. In truth it was a philosophy. Learn as much as you can, keep what works, and disregard the rest. This allowed him to build his own systems from a variety of influences. My interpretation was that you shouldn’t directly copy his style. As his body may have different attributes and limits to your own. You must learn what works best for you.)
While learning Wing Chun my own teacher would regularly repeat the same mantra, “Repetition is the Mother of skill”
Which feeds back to the same lesson.
After all these years I STILL feel that I need to work on my understanding of repetition. And I believe we all do.
We are what we repeatedly think, say, and do. So better if it is by design don’t you think?
If you’re still unsure about incorporating repetition into your own routines here are 5 reasons to really consider what it can do for you:
1. Develop your focus
Focus is such a huge topic that I can’t possibly do it justice in this small blog point. Suffice to say we’re never going to achieve at a high level unless we apply focus to what it is we’re going after.
Repeatedly returning to the same thoughts and actions requires us to hold them in our mind. This very act develops our ability to focus. Through the power of developed focus we see on a much deeper level.
If we’re repeating a martial arts move we learn to concentrate on every intricate detail. And if we’re repeating a piece of literature that we want to commit to memory, then through focus we can really dig for the deeper meaning behind it. Oppose to just accepting the surface level appearance of it what it might mean.
2. Develop discipline
I was listening to one of those motivational YouTube clips not that long ago with a collection of recorded quotes. One of which sounded like Denzel Washington (I’m pretty sure it was him actually I’m just not 100%), and he said;
To me this really hit home.
We can all talk a good game. I know I’ve talked some fantastic games over the years. Maybe you can relate from your own experience if you’re honest with yourself.
But in the end the only thing that matters is what get’s done. And that comes down to your level of discipline.
Do you have what it takes to DO what needs to be done?
Can you give yourself a command and then just DO it?
Repetition is one of those things that is necessary. It’s really important work. But it’s just not sexy. It’s the work that happens in the shadows where nobody is watching. Where there is no glory, and nobody is cheer-leading you on.
If you can master your discipline to keep working and doing what needs to be done, you’re odds of success dramatically increase.
3. It’s a test of Commitment
It was in a T. Harv Eker book where I first heard these 3 steps to achieving big goals.
First you WANT to do it. This is the easy part as we all have a wish list as long as our arm. You’d be amazed how quickly we’d all throw the shopping list out there if we had a magic genie to just deliver it for us.
But as you know it’s not that simple. Just wanting something isn’t enough.
Second we CHOOSE it. We start to up the ante and make choices around that thing that we want. Maybe if we want to lose weight we’ll choose the salad at lunch time? If we want to learn a new skill we may choose to buy some books on the subject? Perhaps we’ll sign up for a new course? Introducing those choices that point us in the direction we want to go.
But that still isn’t enough.
Finally we make a decision. We COMMIT to the goal. No matter what.
This is the point where the magic really happens. This is where the rubber meets the road and we’re not dabbling any more with things we’re going to try and do, or playing with projects we’d like to do. Once we’ve committed to something then it’s happening. Period.
And if that means going over and over the same drills daily then so be it.
Whatever it takes.
4. The body gets good at what it’s used to doing
We are what we repeatedly say and do.
If you want to get good at running then start running. If you want to create a new belief then keep reminding yourself of your new paradigm till the old one is gone.
Through repetition we can literally rebuild ourselves if we so wish.
These adaptations don’t happen overnight of course. They happen through a series of repetitive actions where the body learns that this is how things are going to be now. This is who we are. And this is what we do.
By running every day your body becomes more efficient at the activity. You’ll lose weight to make it easier. Your body will optimise your energy pathways to ensure you are always fueled efficiently for optimum performance. There will be adaptations to your internal organs, such as heart and lungs, bringing further efficiencies.
It is the same with the words you use daily which become embodied as who you are.
The emotions you live with daily add to your personal blueprint, and on a subconscious level you will seek experiences that feed those emotions. This power of repetition is always at work. And may be working against you if you’re not monitoring it. Have you ever noticed people that just seem to revel in negative news? Why do you think they do that?
Bob Proctor teaches that the subconscious mind is both fertile and amoral. Whatever you plant there will grow. For instance if you were to plant corn next to deadly nightshade you’ll find they will both grow in equal abundance. The soil doesn’t decide which one is good and which one is bad. It has no opinion on the matter, and simply grows what is planted there.
Through repetition we can strongly influence what we plant into our subconscious mind. A good opportunity to program your mind by design oppose to leaving it to chance.
5. Sometimes you know…… but you just don’t know yet
A common mistake many of us make (I’ve done it myself many times) is to falsely believe we already know something.
We accept an idea and reason with it in our conscious mind. Then too easily assume we fully understand it.
Maybe we do intellectually in our conscious mind? But it’s not our conscious mind that is driving the bus. Most of our habits are automatic and true understanding can only take place when it is firmly planted in the sub-conscious.
Sometimes gaining that level of understanding happens in an instant. Sometimes it takes a fair amount of work. If it is the latter then you may already have a pre-existing paradigm which is diametrically opposed to the new idea you’re trying to plant. In which case you will do well to use the power of repetition to replace that old model with your new upgraded version.
As an example have you ever been in a seminar where the leader on the stage tells you how to achieve a goal. And the person next to you just shakes their head saying ‘I know all this?’ And they appear bewildered because they were expecting a big aha moment as they come across the big secret that has alluded them for so long.
In this instance saying ‘I know this’ is an obstructive barrier. They don’t know it. They merely think they do because they heard it before, and can intellectually reason with it in their mind.
If they really knew it they’d act upon it.
Same as we all would. Me included.
When we truly understand the power of repetition we don’t question it any more.
We just get out there and get busy!
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