Make It Up: How to Become an Expert at Anything

A guy who is an expert, become and expert, make it up, winging it, mindfulness, mindful fitness, mind fit movePreperation Makes Perfect?

We often mistake perfect preparation for perfect performance. Preparation is important, but it can be limiting.

We get fixated on an idea when we prepare or over prepare. We get an image in our minds of how things are going to be. And we think to be happy it must happen exactly like this.

The Best Laid Plans

Let me give you an example. We’ve begun planning whole classes in yoga school. We were assigned to write three sequences around a peak pose and teach them to our partner.

So, I wrote each sequence with care. I made sure they were balanced and challenging. Then I spent some time reviewing each sequences. I felt ready to go.

Game Time

When I met with my yoga schoolmate the first sequence went great. I was clear, confident, and she responded well. But the on the second sequence things got confusing.

I was reading the sequence off Evernote on my phone. Somehow, I scrolled incorrectly and realized that I was teaching part of the first sequence again.

I wasn’t sure what to do. Do I stop her and go back? Do I keep going? Do I do the first sequence again?

Act With Faith

In that moment, I could have gotten anxious, stumbled over my words, and given up. The image of how I thought it would go wasn’t matching reality.

Instead, I put down the phone and taught a modified version of the second sequence. I made sure she was balanced on both sides. I added some things in. I left some things out.

Later I apologized, but she told me she hardly noticed. I was able to do this because I wasn’t attached to the outcome.

What the Pros Do

Now, I’m not an expert yoga instructor, but this is what an expert would do. What makes an expert an expert isn’t their ability to follow a script.

It’s their ability to rely on their experience and have faith in themselves. Acting on this faith means stepping forward with the confidence that things will work out.

Mindful Movement

This is what being mindful in movement is all about. When we become curious about our bodies and movement, only then can transformation happen. Talking about engaging the core is nothing compared to actually feeling it engage.

But we must pay attention and move with careful confidence. If we do this, then we can become experts of ourselves. Moreover, this knowledge becomes the ground for our ability to help others.

MindFitMove Practice
Pick an upcoming race, event, conversation, or assignment you have.
Decide what would be a reasonable amount of time to spend preparing.
Write down what your intention is for that activity.
Just one sentence, no more.
Get to work; set a time and track your progress.
Once you hit the allotted time stop preparing.
Just before you start your race, event, conversation or turn in your assignment, read or recite the following:

Letting go of the outcome, I will – Your activity –
(run this race, talk to this person)

With the intention of – your intention-
(improving my health, being kind)

I have faith in my ability to respond with skill.
Being present is the best preparation.

If you try this out let me know how it goes.

Let’s Talk: How do you like to prepare?
Comment below and let me know.


How Flipping A Coin Made Me Perfect At Yoga

Guy jumping in yoga poseI’m failing at yoga.
I mean totally blowing it.

My warrior two looks like warrior one. And my warrior one looks like someone broke off the top a bowling trophy.

An Endless Path
The other day a classmate observed that the path of Yoga is endless. We are always working towards greater subtlety and clarity. When he said this, I felt a lump in my throat.

In Yoga school, I am a neophyte extraordinaire. I’ve only practiced with a well-trained teacher for a few months.

Before this, I did mostly guerilla Yoga. It was fun and loose, and my teacher had studied at Youtube academy. I loved Yoga, but I didn’t have a lengthy, formal education.

They’re Pros
Most of my classmates have been practicing for years if not decades. I find their knowledge, skill, and flexibility to be humbling. I often feel like Bambi caught in a forest fire.

Still, Yoga’s not a competition right? Well I’m an American male so everything can be a competition. So there, I was in class thinking about how bad I was at this infinite art.

Then it struck me. There is another side to this coin. The side that sees my yoga as perfect.

Two Sides
There are two sides to every situation: the side that takes an ideal and compares us to it and the side that always sees wholeness. The first side we see all the time. The second side is hardly looked at.

No one can do my Yoga except for me. No one can face my body’s challenges except for me.

My whole life; karma, dharma, and everything else has brought me here.

Every step I make is a step on the path. I may stumble and fall, but I must walk.

There is no me some place else that’s doing it better. There is only the me that practices here and now. There is no moment other than this one and this moment is perfect.

MindFitMove Practice
Reflect on these three questions.
What if everything I do is perfect as it is?
What if everything everyone else does is perfect in this same way?
What if I could see this perfection in every moment?
How would it change my life and how I live?


The 3 Teaching Discoveries That Transform Relationships

A Picture of a Teacher

Photo By Nikita Kashner

The 3 Teaching Discoveries:
Teaching is something we do all the time. In romantic relationships, we teach our partner how to support us. Your boss teaches you how to satisfy their expectations.

Unfortunately, we don’t teach clearly. Our partners and bosses sometimes teach conflicting lessons. We do the same to them.

This leads to confusion, mistrust, and disappointment. To create more harmony we must understand what we are teaching. We must mold our lessons to create more clarity.

This post is about how to start that process today.

Being Taken to School
Last week at the Bhaktishop Yoga School we practiced teaching a sequence of poses to a partner.

After our first session, I noticed 3 things that apply to every teaching relationship.

Here are the 3 Teaching Discoveries I made:

1. We Speak Our Own Language –
Everyone has his or her own dictionary. This dictionary is full of references to their life. The dictionary works great, until we use it to teach.

We expect everyone to know what we mean by a certain phrase or word. But everyone else translates our words with their own dictionary.

We have to be mindful of what we say and what it means. Or we risk confusing everyone around us.

The String
For example, when I say,  “Put a string on the crown of your head and lift.” this triggers 100 actions in my mind.

‘The string’ is my short hand for this set of subtle actions. The first time I used it, I had to explain to my partner the things that make up ‘the string’ feeling.

After that when I used ‘the string’ she did most of the actions I showed her. This is possible because we shared an understanding of this phrase.

When you work with someone, you must find common ground. You need to do it explicitly and often, or risk confusion and resentment.

2.  We Like the Way We Learn –
I’m an audile learner and a generalist. I like to hear clear simple instructions and to get the general feeling. On the other hand my partner was very detail oriented.

I would get lost when she added more detail and I left out details she probably considered vital for the pose.

Meet Half Way
When we are teaching we must meet others halfway. If a person likes more detail, add a little more detail. If a person learns better by reading, write a note instead of calling.

Don’t sacrifice your own strengths, but also don’t become dependent on them. If we get stuck on our own style, we limit the reach and efficacy of our message.

3.  Be Present
Teaching my first sequence, I found myself buried in my book.I was so focused on my notes, that I lost track of my partner. This is a real danger when we fixate on our plans.

When we are teaching, our presence is the most amazing gift we can offer. A book or video can recite cues. Only a live person can see and adapt moment by moment.

This is the simplest lesson I learned and also the hardest.

MindFitMove Practice
Pick a relationship where you are in a formal or informal teaching role.
Thinking about that role bring these 3 things to mind:

  1. What is one thing I say habitually? What does it really mean?
  2. What is my learning style? What is their learning style? What can I do to accommodate both styles?
  3. When do I lose touch with the person I’m teaching? What cues could I use to return to being present?

Thanks for reading!

Let me know what tools do you use when teaching?