A few years ago, my mom gave my eldest son a pair of training roller skates. My son is a fan of instant gratification. When he put the skates on and immediately lost his footing, he grew frustrated and lost interest in learning the new skill. The skates were placed on a shelf in our garage.
After some time passed. I would see the skates and ask him if he would be willing to try it again. To give my son credit, he would go along with my suggestion, but then would fall down and rapidly lose interest once again. Finally one day he seemed to get the hang of the process. Sort of. He was able to stay up on his feet, but instead of rolling from point A to point B he would pick up his foot and walk there. It rather defeated the purpose and was a little frustrating to watch.
My husband and I had the brilliant idea that I should strap on my own skates and show him how it is done. The house I had grown up in had been on a cul-de-sac, a round, closed no-through road, which didn’t see a ton of traffic. This gave the neighborhood kids a perfect place to go for any number of outdoor games and activities. At times, it was like our own personal skating rink. I might not have been good enough to compete in something like roller derby, but I was pretty confident on wheels throughout my childhood and teenage years. I ran to pull my skates out of our closet.
As I strapped my feet into my roller blades, it occurred to me that I hadn’t dusted off my skates in several years. My legs wobbled as I stood up. How in the world did I used to do this? The slight incline of my driveway was suddenly extremely intimidating. I heard my husband tell our son, “now look how mommy does it.” Can you say performance anxiety? All I needed was to fall down and crack my head open. We’d never get kiddo to try something new ever again.
I made it down the driveway through a combination of slaloming and walking on the grass. Graceful, I was not. I had wanted to teach my son my skate moves. Instead I taught him that grown-ups need practice sometimes too, even on skills we think we have long since mastered.
I do not write about topics like positive thinking because I am a Pollyanna, an eternal optimist. I do not see rainbows with every rainstorm. I succumb to pessimism now and then just like everyone else. But I have chosen to post uplifting thoughts because this is how I practice my own internal motivation.
I am reminded of the advice: do not practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong. Self-motivation is one skill I may never master, and I am okay with that, but everyday is an opportunity to practice.