The importance of daily practice

Pablo Casals was a renowned cellist who once emphasized the vital impact of daily practice on the instrument’s “feel.” He remarked that skipping even one day of practice made a noticeable difference, not just to him but also to his close friends and eventually to the whole world. This insight aligns with the experience of a physicist who, also a violinist, wrapped his violin in green felt, clamped it in a vise, and observed its molecular surface under an electron microscope. The experiment demonstrated the lasting effects of daily play on the instrument. This finding reinforces that musical instruments need regular attention to maintain their resonance. I love this idea because it extends to writers (me) who find daily pen-to-paper engagement breathes life into ideas. So, just as Casals felt the difference in his cello after a day of neglect, I, too, can tell if I go a day or two or three without practicing putting pen-to-paper. The example highlights the power of consistent practice in any (creative) endeavor.

The next right thing

I don’t solve my problems with genius solutions or out-of-the-box ideas. Well, maybe sometimes 😉. Most of the time, I solve problems and get over obstacles step by step—action by action. No one can stop me except me when I get in my way. It’s never grandiose. It often feels like a struggle. But in reality, it’s just doing the small thing before me. The small thing isn’t so small. The same principles apply to well-being. Small steps are no small thing. Huge deficits or hurt feelings aren’t taken down with a silver bullet. It’s slow, deliberate work. It’s doing the next right thing. And the next right thing, and the next right thing. No one can stop you from that but you.

Put your butt where your heart wants to be

The more important a project or any endeavor is to your growth, the more resistance you will feel to it. When I say resistance, I mean the tendency to procrastinate, self-doubt, distraction, confusion, fear… all things that sabotage your work. So it’s a good sign if you’re about to embark on something or are already in it and overwhelmed with resistance. It means that your project is important to your growth. Sit down, shut up, and do it.

Better over time

We’re not perfect, and that’s no secret, especially to our kids. The real question is, have we become better over time? Have we improved since our kids were younger, or even just a few years ago? Can we say that we’ve changed for the better?

I read a story written by a son about his mother. He describes his mother’s transformation in the decades after his father’s passing.

After his mother’s journey of personal growth, he said, “She changed,” highlighting the rarity of such transformations in our mothers. How many of us will be able to be looked upon by our children with them knowing that, put simply, “we changed.”

It makes me wonder, will my kids be able to say the same about me? Will they notice our continual self-improvement instead of the common trend of becoming more set in our ways as we age?

Can they see that we’ve learned from our mistakes and rarely repeat them? Can they witness us evolving into better grandparents, despite not always getting it right as parents?

That’s my hope.

Message-to-Market Match

Looking at my YouTube Channel Analytics
YouTube Analytics

I wanted to share some insights on content creation.

First, content creation on the web has become a cornerstone of modern society. You must consistently create content if you have an idea to spread, a story to tell, a product to sell, or a cause or business to promote.

I started to create videos on YouTube about a month and a half ago as a temporary experiment. Given that I’m so heavily steeped in content creation for my clients, I wanted to practice on a relevant topic. And it’s been incredible to see the positive response that my videos are garnering. The engagement, views, likes, and comments have been outstanding, and it got me thinking about two important aspects: message-to-market match and content exploration.

Message-to-Market Match

The success of these videos underscores the power of aligning your message with your target audience. When we’re authentic and share our personal experiences, we naturally resonate with those who can relate. It’s a reminder that, in content creation, finding that sweet spot where your message meets the needs and interests of your audience is key. The more genuine and relatable you are, the more your content will connect with your viewers.

Experimentation and Exploration

I didn’t expect these videos to receive such a positive response, but that’s the beauty of content creation. It’s a journey of experimentation and exploration. Check and adjust. Feel free to try new things, share your experiences, and discover what resonates with your audience. As well as what doesn’t.

Even though I primarily work with small marketing teams and owners, more and more, I’m sharing ideas with solo content creators and individuals who are just breaking into the content creation game and going for it. I commend those individuals for setting their insecurities aside and being honest. In time, it will pay off.

Beginner Creators Need to Create Heaps of Content

You’ve heard of the “creator economy.”

Despite only being born a decade ago, it’s become the fastest-growing type of small business. I often rub elbows with these creators, and I have made an observation.

A “creator,” by cultural definition, puts a unique signature on their work. And in the world of content creation, this “body of work” takes center stage.

The creator defines and shapes that body of work with CONTENT.

It’s difficult to break it to some creators seeking to prematurely contract my services. They have big eyes and want big follower counts. But they need to create more content first. A lot more.

Followers are important, but only once you’ve found your voice. Without a voice, worrying about follower counts will only stunt your growth as an aspiring creator.

Initially, the mission should be crystal clear for creators: find your voice. It’s a journey of self-discovery, of trial and error, and it all starts with creating heaps of content.

During this voice-finding phase, it’s about something other than amassing a big following.

It’s about having the courage to experiment with content.

This is done by taking different angles, insights, and pitches via content. It’s a process, a journey that aims to hone in on one’s unique voice.

And at first, that’s not something that can be outsourced.

First one to the table gets a clean fork

I call, Time to eat.

No one comes.

[Back story] There’s a pile of dishes in the sink. No clean silverware whatsoever. Last night for ice cream, the kids had to dive into dirty dishes to find a spoon, and — heaven forbid — wash their own. Amidst groans and grumbles.
I call again, Time to eat!

Still nothing.

Cooking for kids is thankless work and I feel like a short order cook.

I’m annoyed when “it’s ready” and no one arrives. This isn’t the first time.

I try once more, Time to eat!

Holding onto the “eeeaaattt” with an upward tilt and irritation they know by heart.

Yelling across two rooms, I add:

“First one to the table gets a clean fork,”

Now they come running. It becomes a race. I hear the competitive trampling of feet scoot through the living room.

My two oldest slide through the threshold onto the kitchen linoleum.

While the youngest was hip checked and flung onto the couch.

She wines, “Not fair.”

Then an argument between the two oldest ensues:

“I’m first.”
“No, I was first.”

I interrupt, “You’re both first. Sit down, my little stinks.”

Everyone sits.

I feel satisfied and relieved. Dinner is still hot. Everyone is finally at the table.

A chorus of “yays” breakout.

I’ve prepared their favorite: pesto pasta with chicken and mushrooms.

They start passing around the Romano.

I’m happy. Because that’s all I want. For my kids to be at the table together. Eating the dinner that I made. Talking about the highs and lows from the day.

So I finish cleaning dirty forks. 🙃

Everything is good when we’re all together at the table for dinner. ❤

These are days to remember.

30 Deliberate Practice Days To Get Better at Life

Eric L Walker with a smile at the greenhouse.
Eric L. Walker at the Greenhouse. June, 2023

I ran into an old acquaintance in aisle 12 at the grocery store. Someone I hadn’t seen in years. He told me I looked like I’d been hitting the gym.

“What are you getting all fit for?” he asked.

I replied, “Life.”

Reflecting on the encounter later, I thought about my response. Underneath it all, I have a simple goal:

To continuously improve as I grow older.

It isn’t just about aging – I’m just trying to improve life. And the people I enjoy spending time with the most have the same AWARENESS.

It makes me think of the word: “practice.” For me, practice is about my parenting, job(s), faith, talking, relationships, writing, fitness, and much more. Thinking this way means I’m staying aware of what I’m doing in all areas of life instead of drifting along.

Another way to say it:

“Practice” means doing something purposefully, taking care of, and wanting to pursue growth. Awareness means paying attention to the feedback life is giving you.

I like these ideas. Part of my “practice” is writing them down and sharing them.

I wanted to break down some of the things we hear people say all the time and define them against everyday life:

– “Doing something on purpose” means living with intention.

– “Taking care” can mean focusing on meaningful things and/or bringing meaning to the mundane.

– “Wanting to grow” makes me think of “kaizen,” another excellent idea from Japan, which is about small, continuous improvements that make us better every day.

– “Feedback” is critical to improving because it underscores being capable of “adapting,” which only becomes more important as we age.

Ultimately, this isn’t about perfecting everything or comparing yourself to others. It’s about being present and paying attention in everything we do daily, aka being “accountable.”

All those words I put in quotes are buzz words that orbit around the same thing: improvement.

This is me talking to you like we’re at coffee, and as I finish that last sip, I’d like to conclude by doing a thing. Maybe a few of you will follow what I’m up to and by all means, join in.

It’s all in the effort to continue getting better at life.

1. Wake up early. I’ll define early as by 6 AM.

2. Write down my thoughts before bed. Like right now, I’m writing this under my reading light.

3. Exercise 4 days a week for no less than 30 minutes, i.e., getting sweaty.

4. Sit in silence for 10 minutes.

5. Walk or ride a bike every day for 30 minutes. This is separate from exercise.

6. Read an actual book for 10 minutes a day. I prefer the Bible.

Do you want to join me?

People like us do things like this.

Why I turned to the Bible

Isaiah 5:20 says:

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

I turned to the Bible during COVID-19 out of frustration. From my point of view, the leaders I once trusted were calling bad “good” and good “bad.” Things needed to be clarified.

No one stepped up to clarify, and all good cities were burning down.

Dr. Suess described my feelings best in his masterpiece, “The Sneetches,” when he wrote:

“No one knew… if this one was that one, or that one was this one, or which one was what one, or what one was who.”

The Bible provided me with comfort, solace, and moral guidance.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John helped me during those times of uncertainty and distress. The life and ministry of Jesus Christ offered me a comprehensive understanding.

Jesus’ teachings, actions, and significance gave me a profound source of a deeper understanding of faith.

Today, I’m sharing Isaiah 5:20 because it warns against moral confusion and the distortion of values.

Every day, I encounter situations and behaviors that make me reflect on right and wrong, good and evil, and the importance of maintaining moral clarity and values.

Those who know me best know that I’m no angel. I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes.

Which is why writing this post feels awkward, and that’s also why I’m writing it.

I’m making a recommendation to read the Bible.

I’m a book reader. I’ve always been a book reader, but now… I’ve abandoned all books and prefer reading the Bible – 10 minutes daily.

Once upon a time, my ex-father-in-law, who has since passed, recommended that I read the story of Jesus. I said No thanks. I think of him often because 27 years later, I understand what he was trying to lead me toward. It’s a good path to follow.

I have found the Bible as a source of strength, guidance, and hope.

The Bible offers a rich collection of verses and teachings. It provides a sense of purpose, moral grounding, and a connection to something greater than myself. Especially as a committed Father, I trust that the understanding of some of the most difficult challenges is found in the Bible.

I read a headline from Wired [dot] com that read:

“Preferring Biological Children Is Immoral.”

Headlines like that usurp God with the audacity of the devil.

Being sensitive and astute to language, I encounter this type of audacity every day.

The internet is like a wild ride with content from all walks of life.

Many of the publications I used to love are now captured entities.

So when I close my laptop and put my phone down, it’s the Bible that works as a counterbalance, and that helps me feel more reassured and resolute.

I would like to conclude by bringing it back to Isaiah 5:20.

These verses are part of a series of “woes” that warn against pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness. It cautions against individuals who trust their wisdom and understanding, thinking they are clever and self-sufficient rather than relying on God’s guidance and wisdom. The verse reminds us to remain humble and acknowledge our dependence on divine wisdom.

I take that advice to heart, and maybe you can, too.

With love and respect.

Embrace natural beauty

I notice young folks in their twenties striving to alter their natural youth and beauty. Similarly, people my age (around the upper 40s and older, when age becomes more apparent) opt for surgeries, procedures, and treatments to appear younger. But why? Could it be fear? Fear comes from within. Fear is an inside job that can’t be quenched by changing outward appearances. I want my daughters to avoid this path of insecurity, and wanting to be something other than who they are. As for me, I appreciate laugh lines, less perky breasts, and a bit extra around the hips and thighs. A person who embraces who they are is what I find most attractive.