Steady work makes for solid achievement
Though we know that good things take time, managing the expectation for quick returns on minimal investment is still a struggle. We reap what we sow, and oftentimes, we do not see the hours, days, or years of intentional groundwork that laid the foundation for that harvest. What we see all around us are the fruits of the labor.
Steady practice and consistent commitment are key to growth and development.
The beginnings of the journey
When I was 11 years old, there was this angst inside me that I could not explain. I had been taking piano lessons for three years, and I had been playing soccer for about four years, but all of a sudden I didn’t want to do either. My parents let me stop, but told me that I had to work on something.
It was 1992, and I remember seeing the music video for Pearl Jam’s song Jeremy for the first time, and something awakened inside of me; this is my music. That was a pinnacle moment in my decision to take up the guitar. That Christmas, my mom put new strings on her old acoustic guitar, that was decorated with a giant sticker that said Hallelujah and placed it by the tree. That is how the 27-year journey of becoming a guitar player began.
Putting in the work
While I have grown in my ability and become a far better player than I was at 11, there are still times on this journey when I stall out or struggle to achieve the skills I desire. When I was just beginning, everything was new. I advanced quickly in my ability because I had found excitement in playing, and a sense of urgency to learn as many songs as I could.
I remember the excitement of playing my first chords and the thrill of learning the intros for Jeremy and Come As You Are. As chords became easier to play, and the transitions between chords became more fluid, I began to learn riffs and leads. I was taught the fundamental understandings and tools to grow and develop as a guitarist.
I worked hard as a youth at learning how to play guitar well. I put in the intentional time, and I found like-minded people to play with. One of my lifelong friends, whom I met at 12 years old, also began to learn guitar, and we would jam together; learning covers and learning how to play off of each other’s songs.
Living life as a student
I play guitar because it brings me joy, yet I wonder what joy lies ahead if I were to pick up my guitar as a student again, ready and willing to push myself to learn something new, or to enhance something I can already play. What will the next 27 years of guitar look like if I can go back to that mindset of my younger self, willing to make my fingers hurt and work through the frustration of failing 100 times on a song until it finally clicks?
I believe that there are levels to being committed. At the base level, consistent attention to something that we want to be good at is what gets us on the path to mastery. Beyond that, true impactful and powerful commitment comes from growing in that skill and pushing through the tough times. Growth comes with pain, and it also comes with time.
This time we have is coming at us as quickly as it is moving past us, therefore, commitment needs to be woven through the very fabric of our life. This life that we live is filled with opportunities to grow and become great at what we do, from guitar to parenthood to physical and mental well-being; an intentionally committed life is a life well-lived.