In Part 1 of this series, the topic was VISION. The concept is simple enough, envision what it is that embodies success for you, so much so that it seems that you’ve already attained it. However, you must also have a significant purpose for wanting to achieve your goal to keep on track with meeting it. See, simple enough in concept. Yet not necessarily easy to commit to practice. That brings us to the next principle.
Training to acquire or improve skills is one form of the word practice. The other is applying those skills that you’ve obtained in a routine and proficient way, such as opening a medical practice or constructing an operational handbook of “best practices”.
“Excellence is not an art. It is the habit of practice.” Aristotle
Virtually no one is gifted with the natural ability to get something right from the start. How many toddlers mastered walking on the first attempt? (I mean, of course your child did, but no one else’s.) However, those lacking inherent talents, such as balance, coordination, and strength can develop or improve upon them under the proper conditions and surpass others who lack the desire or effort to enhance their skills.
The benefit of training is that it generally affords you the opportunity to make mistakes under controlled circumstances. Does anyone like to make mistakes or enjoy failing or love losing? Typically not, but blunders are inevitable, so minimize your exposure by making more of them away from the spotlight and embrace the learning that can come out of them. Scientists, musicians, programmers, inventors, and athletes all inconspicuously practice their skills first and then showcase them when the time is right. They seek incremental improvements along the way, which add up to great achievements long-term. Anyone and everyone can do this!
“Mistakes are stepping stones to success.” John C. Maxwell
If you recall, this series was designed to help you successfully find lucky clovers, but the principles are equally beneficial in other matters of life as well. You will build up your skills here through a series of strategies to discover four leaf clovers, but these are tools to help beyond just that.
Let’s break down the strategies into familiar elements that will make the application easier when you are on your own and out in the wild! The fundamentals for perfecting this process are derived from the 6 “w” questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Since that is typically the sequence that professionals in journalism, research, and investigation remember the “w” questions, that’s how we’ll approach it here, too.
- “Who” will this matter to?
This is all about you for a change! You are the person that will be learning the techniques and will be the one putting them into practice. However, most find they are more successful when they are setting the goal with someone else in mind, making the outcome about a greater cause than oneself. That is not a requirement, especially if the objective is small and personal, but it can be helpful especially if others are able to encourage you along the way. Perhaps, you could find a clover and give it to someone you care about.
- “What” are you seeking?
This may sound simple, but sometimes knowing exactly what you want is more difficult than you realize. For example, how many people knew what they wanted to do for a career growing up and stuck with it? Not many, maybe 10 percent or less. However, starting toward a goal and realizing it isn’t right for you is a perfectly decent reason to adjust and strive for a different outcome.
In our case here though, people have a concept of what they want, but often it is based on the wrong image. Fortunately, one of the benefits of training is that you also get the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Most people think of a shamrock when they imagine what a lucky clover is. Although they look pretty and are commonly associated with the Irish, these heart-shaped beauties are NOT the clovers you’re looking for…
In fact, those aren’t clovers at all. And neither are these (please avoid):
Instead you want to be looking for white clovers, or trifolium repens, which have little whitish, pink flower heads, similar to the one Horton found in “Horton Hears a Who” by Dr. Seuss.
The four leaf variety is considered to be lucky, because “trifolium” translates literally as 3-leafed, which makes having more than 3 leaves highly uncommon and, therefore, special. There are different markings that can be found on the leaves of white clovers – some solid green, some with white or red variegation, but all will have the tell-tale whitish, globe shaped flower.
The prize we’re looking for though is anything other than a triangle pattern that the 3 leaves would form. A square, diamond, or star pattern out of a field of triangles is the goal. That is how the lucky clovers will appear. Four leaf clovers will take on a rhombus shape like a square, diamond, or a kite. Clovers with five or more leaves will appear like stars.
Try reviewing these simple geometric patterns and see if you can spot the winner in each one.
- “When” is the right time to start?
In most scenarios, there is no time like the present. There are only a few times when it is better not to jump right in. For example, it’s best not to be stressed or anxious about finding what you’re looking for, it can make the process more onerous. Find a time when you are more at peace.
It’s okay to be excited about the prospects. But it’s also a good idea not to get ahead of yourself. In the case of hunting for prized clovers, starting at nightfall or in the dead of winter are far from ideal circumstances. Don’t make an already challenging task virtually impossible. Give yourself until after dawn and for the snow cover to melt.
- “Where” is the best place to begin?
A great place to start is right where you’re standing. As simple as it sounds, most people have never found what they seek, because they didn’t bother to consider their immediate surroundings. The self-defeating assumption is that “success” must be elsewhere and couldn’t possibly be just within reach. But opportunity is everywhere, including under one’s feet.
Of course, if you’re not standing on or near a patch of clovers, you will need to move a little, but not far. White clovers are native to Europe and central Asia, but they are widely cultivated and flourish in every region of the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. There’s bound to be a patch not far from where you are at this very moment. Even a small park in a busy city district could have the patch of green you desire.
Even though any spot with clovers could produce results, there are some places that are more optimal than others. Some of these guidelines will be obvious, others will seem counter-intuitive.
“If you’re digging a hole in the wrong place, making it deeper doesn’t help anything.” Seymour Chwast
Many people try looking in the largest, most densely populated clover patch they can find. While the odds are that lucky clovers are likely located there, the probability that you find one is low unless you are experienced and extremely patient. The issue for rookies and veterans alike in this situation is that there is too much visual “noise”. Nothing will stand out to you – everything will look the same.
Of course, you don’t want to go the extreme opposite either, where you’re in a desolate place with only a handful of clovers. In this case you’re more likely to spot the pattern if a lucky clover is there, but the odds are significantly lower that one of them actually lives there.
Find an area without a lot of foot traffic, that’s partially shady, and hasn’t been recently cut. The crumpled, crinkled, and chopped fronds make the patterns harder to see. Basically, you’re looking for a nice peaceful spot to rest on a blanket. And that’s about the size of the patch you’ll need in order to find a lucky clover – roughly 30” by 70”.
You want something just like this…
- “Why” does it matter to you?
If it’s not important to you, focus instead on something else that is. Better to spend your time and energy on matters of significance. As stated previously, you’re more likely to follow through and find ways to commit effort to the goal if it holds meaning to you. Keep the vision relevant to you and success will follow.
“If you know the why, you can live any how.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
- “How” do you go about it?
The key is not to get hung up on the minutia. In fact, you don’t want to focus on each little thing – that will distract you from your ultimate goal and waste too much time on items of little or no value. Envision the bigger picture – seek the uncommon among the common. Get a sense of what lies before you, that you are in a reasonably good place, then let the non-conformity speak to you and embrace its precious differences.
“It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.” Albert Einstein
Standing at the edge of your clover patch, look down and sweep your eyes across the ground in front of you. Don’t stay fixated on one spot. Get a sense of what’s there and trust your instincts that your brain will recognize something unusual. The fringe or the border is typically a good place to see the diamond and star patterns emerge against the background of contrasting colors and shapes.
Notice any here…(there are at least 3)?
If your eyesight, corrected or not, is about 20/20, then standing height is a good distance to spot lucky clovers. Plus you can brush the clovers with your foot to separate any entwined leaflets. What you can reach with your foot is about the range at which you should be looking. Any further is too abstract and any closer is too detailed. The sweet spot is something like an impressionist painting – the essence of clovers. Remember you’re looking for patterns of squares, diamonds, and stars.
Variegated leaves, the ones with white stripes across them, are easiest to identify the patterns of squares and diamonds. The technique of finding the shapes works similarly for solid colored leaves on the clovers, however, the forms may be less evident without the contrasting colors or distinct line markings.
When it comes to looking for four leaf clovers, it’s best to have the sun on your back. The clover leaflets seek light and warmth, so if you stand in the path of their sunlight, they will appear spread out like windmills and solar panels before you. With the fronds all fanned out for you, the patterns are easier to spot.
“There is no glory in practice, but without practice there is no glory!” Unknown
Okay, with all the “w” strategies in mind, let’s see if you have any success with the following examples now. There is at least 1 lucky clover in each image.
This still may not be natural for you just yet, and that’s okay. Don’t sweat it, take a break and come back another time when you’re less frustrated. Maybe go outside and rest under a tree or have a nice picnic lunch or walk barefoot through the yard…
Would love to see your comments on this topic of “PRACTICE”