Improve Your Worst
My cello teacher always tells me that to get better at something, you can’t improve on what you’re already good at; you can only improve on your worst playing.
That means that when there’s a difficult passage for me – even if it’s only two notes – I need to practice those two notes over and over again until I’m not making that mistake. Or at least, making different mistakes. But even making different mistakes means I have improved my worst playing.
It is only when we improve our worst that we can become better. Peter Bregman, in an article for Harvest Business Review says there are two questions we need to ask ourselves to see if we want to improve. We can only improve if the answer to both of them is yes:
1. Do you want to get better?
2. “Are you willing to feel the discomfort of putting in more effort and trying new things that will feel weird and different and won’t work right away?”
The first question could be asked scripturally the way that Amulek posed it to the Zoramites, even if he didn’t phrase it as a question. “…this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation” (improvement). (emphasis mine.)
Jesus asked us the second question in a variety of ways. One of the most famous is this one:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Weak Things Become Strong
Perhaps even more directly, Moroni reminds us that it is only through the Savior that our weakness can be made strong. In other words, it is only when we seek to improve our worst parts that we can become better. And the most successful of those transformations will be when we yoke or partner ourselves to Jesus Christ.
I’ve said it here before, but it bears repeating: being yoked with Him means someone to share our workload with. We won’t turn unless/until He does or directs us to. It means we know the path to walk because He is next to us, shoulder-to-shoulder. It is work to pull the plow! It is hard labor to change, and often unpleasant. But our row will be straight and true because He is our workmate. He is our companion in our labor to save and redeem our soul.
As Easy As a Choice
Successful change really is as easy as making that choice to change.
And gaining eternal life can be achieved by making the choice to get there.
“What we choose to embrace, to be responsive to, is the purest reflection of who we are and what we love. That is why faith, the choice to believe, is, in the final analysis, an action that is positively laden with moral significance. Heaven is not a club we enter. Heaven is a state we attain, in accordance with our capacity to receive a blessed and sanctified nature.” (See Terryl and Fiona Givens, “The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life.”)
Hurts So Good
Discomfort is no fun. Sometimes it downright hurts! But “the surprising truth is that our weaknesses can be a blessing when they humble us and turn us to Christ. In fact, Jesus’s miracles often begin with a recognition of want, need, failure, or inadequacy.” (Michelle D. Craig.)
Do you want to improve? Are you willing to get a little uncomfortable to do so?
If so, you are in for the greatest ride of your life.
“The truth is that each of us is one generation away from Deity—each is a child of God,” Sister Craig also says. And President Packer said, “However many generations in your mortal ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God!” (“To Young Women and Men,” Ensign, May 1989, 54).
“Just as a child can develop the attributes of his or her parents over time, the divine nature that humans inherit can be developed to become like their Heavenly” Parents’, an article on the Church’s website reminds us.
As children of God, it should be our greatest desire to return Home. However, it is our choice. It will never be forced or thrust upon us; we must choose for ourselves if that is the destination we want. Again, this is question number one: What do you want? Do you want to improve so that you can receive eternal glory?
Reaching godhood wasn’t meant to be easy. It is meant to be absolutely and completely transformative. We will not attain that state as we are now, imperfect mortal beings. We must be willing to improve our worst bits, and to endure a little discomfort in the process.