I’m going to give you the secrets of success. As I tell my students, this may be the most important advice you ever receive. Sure, I still have goals to achieve – but I’ve reached some and am confident you’ll find this post helpful. It was inspired by Tuesday’s event in Nashville, where my band won regionals in the Shure SM58 Give It Voice Tour:
Two bits of wisdom – well, one biggie in two parts. #1: Talent is code for strong work ethic. There is no substitute. The FX pedal shown here does not exist. You have complete control over your talent level. People often think of talent as being assigned by G-d, but it’s time and effort. Every athlete is born with the same muscle and skeleton structure. Every guitarist had to learn how to play at some point. When I began singing, I was horrible. Like, really bad. I worked on it. I got better. On Tuesday, a gentleman from Shure said I had “an amazing voice” (they make microphones). Look at Spud Webb, who was probably told as a kid that he could never play pro basketball due to his height. Work hard, practice, improve your game and you can achieve any goal. You may have to work harder than anyone else – not everyone has the same hill to climb – but you’ll reach the top eventually. Which brings us to #2, the formula for distance: Time x Effort = Distance.
The harder you work, the less time it will take to reach your destination. If you only practice once a week, it will take you seven times longer to [play guitar well] than your classmate who practices daily. Sometimes my students are discouraged by this part; they want that Talent Simulator. I think it’s because American pop culture encourages quick fixes – microwaves, magic diet pills (or liposuction), tanning salons … I’m sure there are better examples but you see my point.
The harder you work, the farther you will go in the same amount of time. Rat Race? No worries when you are working harder than your competition; you will go farther. The only risk is burning out. Recall the astronomical metaphor commonly heard when famous people die young, “the brightest stars burn fastest.” This may be true, but with moderation you can avoid becoming a burnout. Moderation is key. Everyone has different limits, everyone has different struggles. Maybe the tools you need are not available? Maybe you have it harder than the next person. But maybe you can work a little harder and focus more on what really needs to be done to achieve your goal(s).