Or watch the video I created around this blog post on my YouTube Channel:
As a teen, I used to love Guns N’ Roses. The face-melting solo in Sweet Child O’ Mine left me with my jaw on the floor. In that moment, Slash became my idol. My dream was to be a badass, rockstar guitar player like him––just without all the heroin and crack cocaine.
When I was around 15 years old, most of my friends who were into rock ‘n’ roll music all wanted to play the guitar. But the difference between shredding solos on your air guitar and nailing a song note-for-note on the real thing is like night and day. It requires years of focus, dedication, and practice.
If you’ve ever sat down with a guitar in your hands and just started playing, the clumsy sequence of notes you hopelessly attempt to string together usually sounds like you’re playing blindfolded.
When you first start playing, you’re going to really suck, and it’s this phase that puts most people off from progressing any further.
But with learning an instrument, or any new skill, there are a handful of extremely valuable qualities that you’ll need to develop if you ever want to make serious progress. I’d even argue that these qualities can dramatically improve other areas of your life and help you master yourself.
You Suck and You Know It
Patience is a prerequisite to learning anything.
As a beginner everything is hard. Your brain is working on overdrive to figure out how to place your fingers on the right strings and pick them with your other hand at the same time––often failing miserably in the process.
You are learning. With enough time and practice, the new motor skills your brain is developing will start to get ingrained deeper and deeper into your brain until they become automatic.
You have to work with your brain and body through repetition to strengthen the neural pathways that will allow you to make progress. This process takes time and there’s going to be a long period at the start when everything you try to play feels almost impossible and requires absolute concentration and focus.
The same applies when learning anything new, not just guitar. It could be cooking, dancing, video editing, or even how to use a washing machine in a foreign country (don’t judge, it’s harder than you think!).
All you need to do is apply a little patience, practice, and repetition and you’ll soon start to see improvements in whatever you’re focusing your attention on.
When you engage in deliberate practice often enough, you will start to notice things getting easier. Perhaps you can pick up on the subtle improvements from the previous session and you now feel motivated to continue learning because you can see the fruits of your labour.
What Separates the Losers From the Winners
When you pair patience with consistent, deliberate practice it just becomes a matter of time until you finally nail your favourite song.
But there is one thing that could derail your efforts––at least in the beginning.
It is easy to get demotivated if you’re stuck on a riff or lick session after session. This is why most people never become the guitar hero that inspired them to pick it up in the first place.
It’s this quality that, when applied to other areas of your life, will help you make huge leaps in whatever you want to accomplish.
If you start skipping practice sessions because you’re stuck, it won’t be long until your shiny new guitar will start collecting dust in your closet.
For example, if you want to grow an online business and you follow a strategy that has been proven to work for others, it’s likely you are still going to come up against gut-wrenching challenges. Everyone does. But when you apply patience and consistency, you will learn from your mistakes, never give up, and eventually generate the income you want from your new venture.
The Pursuit Of Mastery
Whenever I discover a new fingerstyle guitar song on YouTube that seems almost impossible for me to play, I always remind myself, they were once at my level.
It’s true for top performers in every field. They had to start from scratch and put in countless hours of practice until they mastered their craft.
I truly believe that anything is possible, so long as you have a strong desire to make it happen. So, when you hear an incredibly complex, seemingly impossible piece of music, you recognise it’s absolutely possible for you to nail it, given enough time, patience, and consistent practice.
I’m convinced that mastery is what leads to a truly fulfilling life. The process of taking an idea or vision and, through hard work and determination, turning it into reality is something we are all capable of.
But it’s not for those who want an easy, comfortable life.
Whatever it is for you––whether you want to master the guitar, your relationship, or a new language––make a commitment to keep striving towards mastery.
Instead of trying to do lots of things at a mediocre level, why not focus your efforts on one or two skills or abilities and decide to master them.
The journey to mastery is all about the person you become in the process. Having the discipline to sit down and put in consistent practice day after day will impact every area of your life. It will be easier for you to master new skills and abilities because you understand how to learn and progress.
Consistent, deliberate practice is the key.
You will soon prove to yourself that you can turn the impossible into the possible.