Success & Failure

There are many books, videos, gurus and whatnot concerning success and failure.I have read or seen many of them.While thinking of what I have experienced over the past couple of weeks, I can offer a simple understanding: I will succeed if I take action, and fail if I do not take action.

Currently, I am spending all of my time away from work repairing a house we have recently purchased.At the beginning of 2006, I set a goal to be in a financial position to purchase a home for my family within a two year period.We closed the deal on April 25.

At first thought, I have failed by missing the goal by four months.However, if I had not developed a plan of action, I would not have yet started.It is the same with the repairs I am making to the house.My experience in home repair and maintenance is limited to general cleaning or changing door knobs.Well, I did recently change a toilet.

I will not go into detail for consideration of your interest or lack thereof; just know that I am definitely in with both feet and I need hip-waders.

This relates to learning music in the same way it relates to life.You cannot accomplish anything if you do nothing.Do you want to learn barre chords?You must spend time doing them.You will do them poorly at first and then you will get better with more experience.Is there a song that you must be able to play, either for your own sense of accomplishment or because of a gig?You must take steps to learn the song or how to play the parts that you do not understand before you will succeed in learning the song.

There were two Fridays in April that I did not produce an article.My goal is to write an article each week.I chose Fridays because I give myself until each following Monday to have the articles completed and published.Did I fail those two weeks? Yes, I absolutely failed.I started to write the articles, and then I stopped writing and waited until the next week’s article was due.I often worked on an article for a couple of days then just simply deleted it.On purpose, mind you, I was not pleased with where I was going with the idea.Did I lose sleep?No, I have written more in the last four months than I have in my entire life.I am very happy about that too.

In my mind, I am successful in regard to the articles I write.Sometimes, I think what I have written is slapped together junk and then I get positive comments from students past and present.Other times, I write and edit and write and edit and believe I have crafted the epitome of articles and I get crickets.(Think Bugs Bunny cartoons.)

We fail only when we do nothing.I think of how I encourage many of my students each day.I have many times told a student that their wrong note is a success.Yes, a wrong note can be a success if previously the student was playing the wrong string, with the wrong finger at the wrong fret and then he or she plays the right finger at the right fret but simply remaining on the wrong string.It is the improvement and the continued effort that must be recognized.(I am certainly not referring to the idea of ‘getting an A for effort’; sorry, that does nothing to encourage a person to succeed.)It is still true that the student has not yet played the right note, but they are closer than before and that is important to appreciate.Then, we continue to improve until we meet our goals.

Think of what you really want as a player.Never mind whether or not you can do it now.Just choose what you want to be able to do with your instrument, and then start working toward that goal until you reach it.That is the only way to be successful.If you do not work long enough before you quit; that is when you have failed.

I cannot yet live in a house better suited to a family of four than our current two bedroom apartment, but I am darn sure closer than I was yesterday.



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