New Year… Same Old Mindset?

Or maybe not.

I was thrilled to read the part in Jack Canfield‘s, The Success Principles (How to get from where you are to where you want to be), where he shared that he has to work on these principles every day, just like anyone else. Just because he is an authority on the subject of personal growth doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need to say focused on the specifics of what he has to do in order to achieve whatever he sets out to accomplish. The personal discipline necessary for change & growth is one of the most, if not the most, important aspects of becoming better at… anything.

At this point, I’ve been through a good many New Years & each year I realize at a more profound level that the basics aspects & techniques of achieving your goals are still pretty much the same story that they’ve always been.

However, this does not mean that I do not need to frequently reaffirm any notions I have developed about what it takes to create the reality I desire. I wrote about resolutions a year ago & I have done much playing, composing, teaching & researching since then. I also have done a lot of journaling & note taking so I can easily compare where I am at now to where I was a then.

In some areas, a significant amount of progress has occurred. And in other areas… not so much.
But I know what I need to do next… re-evaluate & recommit. Or I might even change a goal entirely into something else.

I taught for ten years for the Grammy Foundation at their Grammy Summer Music Camps. One of my colleagues there would always tell the students, “Luck = Opportunity + Preparedness.” Now, this is a music career camp for high school age musicians, but I think this is a good adage for anyone in that it can be scaled to fit almost any situation where you are striving to achieve a goal.

For example, isn’t practicing various exercises on your guitar preparing you for playing actual songs? Unless you happen to really like practicing scales & exercises (guilty!), most people want to just jump right into playing their favorite tune. And you know what? I think that’s great. If that’s what you want to do, then have at it. But I caution you, oh yee of little delayed gratification skills… that can come at a price.

When you work on a song, you are dealing with every aspect of the musicianship skills necessary to perform said song…. changing chords, strumming/picking, song form, specific techniques, etc… and this is simply too much for the brain to manage. You stop paying attention to certain particulars (especially the right hand). This is where your specific technical approaches start to veer off course, leading to the forming of the proverbial “bad habits” that then need to be reprogrammed later on one’s path.

Now, you can choose to not care & play at a level that is less-than-accurate, which might also be at the level of less-than-likely-to be-enjoyed-by-your-listeners. Again, if you are enjoying yourself as this kind of player, then I think that’s great. It’s suppose to be about having fun & you get to decide what that constitutes. However, most of my private clients come to me after years of avoiding the preparation part of their guitar efforts. They reach a point where they ‘hit the wall’ or become keenly aware that the only way they are going to take their playing to the next level is to re-evaluate & recommit.

Hiring a personal coach (guitar teacher) &/or adopting an organized program is still the best way to accomplish this. And I would recommend that you also develop the skill of discernment… meaning that you can get online to make use of the vast resources available to you and be able to tell what is good & what is bad. This is not an easy task in that if you are in your formative stages, then how do you know which lessons or materials are best? A good guitar teacher should be able to help you figure that out & eventually you will be able to use your own judgement.

But if you are at the point of awareness of your own over-all quality of performance (as in, “how’s that workin’ for ya?”, says always Dr. P), then that’s when you can choose do something differently.

You can choose to practice the guitar in a consistently effective manner so that your skills are developed & refined, thus preparing yourself for the moment when you hear a cool song on Spotify/Apple Music/Rhapsody (or your record player), and you go, “Hey! I like that song! I’m gonna sit down right now and learn it.” And then you proceed to grab your guitar, sit down at your ‘puter & search for the TAB or chords online or Youtube lesson, spend a bit of time figuring out if it is accurate or not, and then learn the song.  (or you could learn it by using your ears to figure out the chords & picking… imagine that?!)

And here’s the punchline…

You will learn it quickly because you have prepared yourself by spending consistent & effective time and effort working on developing your musicianship skills.

It will all come together for you much more quickly because you’ve built up the skills you need to play the music you love.

So, by slightly altering the adage above, we get…

Luck = the music you happen upon on your path of musical life experience… discovering new songs, or writing your own songs

Opportunity = for growth as an artist, as a musician, as a guitarist

Preparedness = spending consistent & effective time and effort working on developing your musicianship skills.

As far as realizing one’s full potential goes, it is essentially all about clarifying your goals, getting into action, & never giving up. If your current mindset isn’t working  for you, then I suggest you take measures to change it.
How do you change it? In much the same way you build guitar technique…

Consistent. Daily. Practice.

So once again, we arrive at the beginning… of the year, of the day, of the next minute. What are you going to do next?

I’m choosing e.) all of the above.

PS- Right as I was finishing up this blog, I just took a quick Facebook break & happened upon this…

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; 
true nobility is being superior to your former self.” 

Ernest Hemingway



  • Angela Sargent

    Reply Reply January 30, 2016

    Dear Matthew,

    My iTunes database tells me I have played ‘Somewhere Before’ 1929 times. I guess you could call me a fan.

    Anyway, I’m looking for more of the same?

    The other tracks on the ‘In This Present Moment’ album did not seem to reach the same sweet spot that leaves me tingling every play.

    Are there more like that on the way?



    • Matthew

      Reply Reply February 14, 2016

      hello angela-
      thank you for appreciating my music! that is my only album i’ve recorded of my own compositions. i’ve been so busy with starting an online guitar course and now i am getting back to focusing on my own music. i will let you know as soon as i do another album.

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