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A Tale of Two Attitudes

By: Konner Scott

Do you want to succeed and push yourself to the next level, or do you just want to get it over with?

These are the two prevailing attitudes I see in most of my students (and also within myself). The difference between how these mindsets affect growth is, in my experience, absolutely astounding.

Sure, just going through the motions is better than doing nothing. If you’re mindlessly practicing scales you already know well, and your only goal is to log the hours, you will continue to reinforce them and see marginal improvement. But how does that compare to someone who’s hungry to improve? Someone who masters a scale and then musters up the effort to learn another one, then figures out how to use those scales to improvise and create new melodies?

Sure, forcing yourself to learn one new measure of a song every week will get you across the finish line. If you sit down and slowly work through it 20 minutes every night, eventually you’ll be able to play the song, and perhaps you’ll even be able to play it well. Months down the line, you’ll have something new in your repertoire. But how does that compare to someone who aggressively devours new material, measure after measure, and spends small chunks of their free time reinforcing what they’ve learned?

Hunger; drive; desire- these are the qualities that create success. Balance these with appropriate goal setting and there’s no limit to how far you can go.

However (and this is very important), you can’t expect to carry around that level of intensity all the time! Having stretches of time where the bare minimum is all you have to offer; that’s called being human. Even the greats often struggle with motivation and confidence.

The trick here is to practice resilience. Listen to your body and mind and recognize when it’s necessary to take a break. Nobody is a machine and everybody needs rest. When you recognize yourself starting to slide from a go-getter attitude to a bare-minimum attitude, step away for a few hours, or days, or weeks. Once your battery is charged back up? Time to hit the gas pedal again- full speed ahead.