Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pearls of Wisdom.

It's rare that I ever feel that I have an actual pearl of wisdom to share, but I think I actually have one today.

I remember about ten years ago when I was really into playing guitar and one of my uncles told me that he'd 'love to be able to play'. I was about to offer to teach him, when his next question stopped me short:

"How long did it take you to get as good as you are?" He asked.

From that question alone, I knew that he'd never learn to play the guitar. At best he'd buy or borrow a guitar, try to learn from a book for a few hours… then give up.

Which brings me to my pearl of wisdom:

Love the process, not the result.

Here's the thing: I love to play guitar, I love to write and I love to draw. However, having people listen to me perform or enjoy something I've drawn or written is just a tiny part of what makes me enjoy those things.

Basically, I love learning to play guitar. I love learning to draw. I love being able to see what I can do this week compared to what I could do last week and seeing a difference. While I definitely get a huge kick out of someone seeing something I've drawn and telling me how good it is, most of the pleasure I get from drawing is the days when I have the house to myself and can sit at my drawing table for a few hours with a cup of really good coffee and just draw.

I think way too many people take up things with an imaginary finish line in sight. It's why the vast majority of guitars sold end up at the back of cupboards gathering dust. They were bought by people who pictured themselves performing in front of hundreds of adoring fans who saw that actual learning to play part as the unenjoyable part they had to do before they got their reward. Once they realized the ratio of learning to performing, they quickly gave up.

Love the process, not the result.

If you don't enjoy practicing the guitar, you're never going to learn how to play it. If you just want a really nice picture to hang on your wall but don't actually enjoy learning to paint…you'll never be a great artist.

It's like when people say things like they wish they could travel back in time to the early 80's and buy a ton of Microsoft stock when it was selling for a few cents a share. What they really mean is they wish they were rich. That's what most people mean when they say they want to be musicians, artists or writers…they just want to be famous and have people lavish praise on them.

Basically, people don't want to be artists, they just want to sell paintings for millions. People don't want to be guitarists, they just want to be famous or be the center of attention. People don't want to be writers, they just want to sign books for adoring fans while cashing royalty checks.

Long story short, if you want to be a great guitarist, you have to enjoy spending hours and hours a day practicing. If you want to be a great artist, you have to enjoy drawing the millions of sketches that won't come out right…and if you want to be an author, you have to enjoy the long hours sitting in front of a computer.

Love the process, not the result.

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