Every afternoon, after school, I would set two baseball gloves and a baseball by the back door. After, I would go turn on Pink Panther, G.I. Joe or whatever cartoon was on at the time. When I heard that familiar grumble of my dad’s Nissan truck coming up the street, I would race to the back door, scoop up the gloves and ball and meet my pop outside. Not many words were exchanged; we both knew what we needed to do. It was automatic. My dad would walk down toward the old, dilapidated garage. I would stand near the old tree I loved to climb. We would start with warm up throws and I would naturally start throwing hard right off the bat. If my old coach, Coach Frase could have seen what I was doing, he would surely yell, “What are ya doin’, Matt? Ya know ya gotta stretch and get warm before you start throwing like that!”
Eventually, when my dad decided I was ready, he would assume position of catcher and I would wind up and fire the baseball at him. Over and over. I threw very hard, as an eleven year old kid. It was natural. What’s funny is my dad claims he held my right arm down when I was a baby and forced me to be left-handed. He was left-handed. His dream was to have a left-handed pitcher and he got one!
We practiced EVERY DAY. We would do something related to baseball. If I complained of a sore arm, we would go out to a field and he would pitch to me or he would hit me fly balls.
I was good. Sure I had some natural ability, but what really made the difference was the amount of time I put into practicing. The REPETITION was huge. Over and over. Pitch after pitch after pitch.
All that time I put in helped me to realize that repetition is one key to getting better; one key to being one of the best at what I was doing.
“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Present day, I use repetition in different ways. When I find something that works, I repeat it over and over. My lunch habits at work are seen as odd, sometimes, because I just buy the same thing for every lunch. This is typically a steamer bag of broccoli and a can of tuna or a chicken breast. I have deviated, some, recently and tried a few new things, but the point is when I find something that works in regards to losing weight, I repeat it.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
When thinking about people of excellence, whomever you’re thinking about has probably spent thousands of hours honing whichever craft they are involved in. Eddie Van Halen practiced his guitar, every day, for many hours per day.
My own kids spent many many hours doing homework. It paid off with excellent grades through high school and college scholarships. My younger son accumulated TONS of hours practicing soccer moves. He would do the required amount at practice, but would come home and do hundreds of moves every single day. It paid off by earning him a spot on the D1 team as the primary forward.
Once you have figured out hot to optimize a particular area of your life, repetition will help you make it automatic until it becomes a goal. In my blog post, Chains, I discuss how I decided to walk my dogs every morning because walking three miles per day is one of the most important things you can do to maintain good health and avoid disease.
Reminders are huge, at first. Eventually, you will build a habit and it will become second nature. Until that happens, set yourself a reminder using your phone, sticky note, note on a mirror, etc.
Repetition can be equally harmful. When one begins to smoke cigarettes, the repetition of doing it over and over turns it into a lethal habit that is extremely hard to break. Whatever we repeat over and over will eventually turn into a habit.
To sum up how to use repetition successfully in your life:
- Realize a skill or task in an area of life you have performed that has worked for you.
- Set reminders to ensure you remember.
- Repeat it daily or as often as it takes.
- If you fall off the wagon, get back on! Don’t beat yourself up about it.
I’m grateful my dad had me outside everyday working on pitching. I didn’t become the retirement plan he had hoped for, but I definitely developed the knowledge of the importance of repetition.