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Habits Shape Your Legacy

My sister Pamela is a concert pianist. She’s really, really good at playing, and teaching, piano. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston then went on to get her Masters from the Juilliard School in New York City. She spent the next decade working at Juilliard in the studio of world-renowned violin teacher, Dorthy DeLay, collaborating with some of the world’s greatest violinists. Today, Pamela is a Professor of Collaborative Piano at the University of New Mexico.

How did Pamela gain her piano expertise? Yes, clearly she was born with a great deal of natural musical gifting. But more than that, she practiced A LOT!

When we were kids, I’d be outside playing with my friends while Pamela would be inside ‘playing’ with her piano. Yes … ‘playing’ in quotes – it was actually a lot of hard work! Back then, she practiced an average of 2-3 hours daily. In some seasons of her life, Pamela’s practiced up to 8-9 hours daily! (Even she now confesses that may have been ‘too much.’)

Brings to mind the old yarn about a guy in Manhattan asking a taxi driver for directions:

“Hey Bud … how do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

“Practice, practice, practice,” came the sage, wisecrack reply.

True that! To truly master something, anything, you must practice a lot.

Practice must become a habit.

Hab · it


1) a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

How do you form a habit?

Well, often your previous attitude, behavior, choice, or decision (ABCD) to a given circumstance informs your next ABCD when a similar circumstance arises. You acted one way in the past, making it easier to act the same way in the future. ABCDs tend to build on and reinforce each other.

Over time, you create Habits through this repetitive, learned process of reinforcement.

Habits can be positive or negative:

  • Reflexive, impulsive attitudes and ways of viewing life,

  • Repeated patterns of behavior that help or hinder you,

  • Intentional choices you make or things you just slip into doing,

  • Knee-jerk decisions in the form of triggered reactions or more thoughtfully considered responses.

Take a look at the diagram below. If you’ve been following along in this series of blog posts for a while now, this should look somewhat familiar.

You’ll notice that I’ve now added this concept of habits to the model.

Positive habits create positive momentum toward Your Desired Legacy.

Negative habits create negative momentum away from Your Desired Legacy.

This week, consider the habits you’ve developed and built into your life over the years.

  • Which ones have served you well?

  • Which others have been less helpful to you?

  • What old habits are no longer serving you and should be broken or released?

  • What new habits might you cultivate to take charge of shaping your legacy like never before?

As a parting gift, here’s a short video of Pamela … just ‘practicing.’


#Habits #Legacy #Practice

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