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The video that I've attached to this post is of my thirteen year old playing a cup. She saw it in a movie and wanted to teach herself. I'm not sure why this intrigued her, but I was all for the gleam in her eye when she talked about it. So, she found a YouTube video, and away she went. She practiced for hours over the course of two days. All we heard was tap, tap, tap, "Aargh!"…tap, tap, tap, "Seriously?" tap, tap, tap, "Ugh!" for what seemed like months. She kept saying, "This is so hard!" to which I replied, "Deep practice takes 10,000 hours to be an expert…just keep at it, regardless of how long it takes. You go, girl!" She finally got it and made this video to send to her friend in Texas. That, my friends, is desire in action.
This got me to thinking about the difference between want and desire. I have devoted a chapter in my parenting book to this subject, because I feel so strongly about teaching your kids the difference. Desire is based in your Essential Self; it comes from a seed planted in your heart and soul, and then it's fed and watered by deep practice. Deep practice is a concept that Daniel Coyle talks about in his book, "The Talent Code." The basic premise of the book is that a prodigy is not born but made; it's the deep practice that takes a kid with a dream and turns her into a prodigy. Coyle says that, on average, a prodigy has put in 10,000 hours to reach full potential. Now, my Emily didn't spend 10,000 hours learning to play a cup, but she kept practicing until she gained a level of proficiency that was enough for her. The reason she did it was an Essential Self desire to do something different; there was no fanfare or competition with a blue ribbon, it was just a desire to manifest a skill that wasn't there before…just because she could.
Want is born of the Social Self, and it's usually superficial. I want to be richer, thinner or smarter, so that I can compete and be the best…then I'll be happy. Want is usually future focused, but it can sometimes be rooted in the past, which can be very frustrating and a huge energy suck. I remember spending hours wishing my past were different...wishing I had said or done something differently, and then agonizing that I hadn't done it right. I hear the same thing from my clients, "I just want things to be different; if I had a different job, spouse or house, then I would be happy." Want is forever outwardly focused; want is about ego.
I got a great example of how differently want and desire look on the same person this weekend. My cup player is also enamored of volleyball. This weekend was her county tournament. She is team captain, and, as such, sets the mood for the team. They played their first three games better than they had played all season: helping each other and having fun. They won two and lost one by a close margin. It was in the fourth game that I saw want raise its ugly head. Emily made a bad play, and wanted to redeem herself. Instead of just playing as a team, she wanted to prove herself as the Superstar Hitter, but circumstances didn't give her the chance. Even though they won the game, she was upset because she didn't play better with a series of big points. I told her, "Is this game about your ego or your desire to play together as a team and have fun?" That stopped her in her tracks; when I told her to shake it off, she dried her tears and went back on the court with a smile. Emily's love of volleyball is an Essential Self desire to do something just for the fun of it, but when her Social Self wanted to be the Superstar, it erased that joy and left her angry and in tears.
Where in your life are you letting want trump desire? I'm not saying that you stop competing and move to an ashram. I'm just suggesting that you notice what makes you feel light inside, whether it's singing in the shower, potting plants or making jewelry. Follow your desire and then apply deep practice; you just may find that your desire leads you to something that really does make you thinner, richer and smarter!