Burn that bridge
I did a master class about career management recently. In the first hour of this master class I asked students to get up and actually run the class. One by one I asked them to come up and imagine how they would run the class, ask questions, make a master plan for a certain student, etc. To see what type of management skills they already had.
This experience was quite an eye-opener for me. The students involved were pretty intelligent, already had degrees and other areas, and had a good awareness of the music industry. To my dismay, what I heard was depressing, shocking, and also possibly a sign of the times. They all mentioned marketing, YouTube, forming clubs to promote their music, using the Internet as a major tool, and a myriad of other marketing concepts that were being thrown around at that time. But…Not one of them, I repeat, not one of them ever bothered to mention practicing your ass off and becoming the best player you can possibly be on your particular instrument. Facepalm!
When I mentioned this small detail of actually being great at what you, I got the blank stare. The blank stare of “whoops we didn’t think about that” – almost a look of shock as I mentioned what I did to get to the point where I am now. How about practicing 12 hours a day? How about studying with everyone you can possibly think of leaving no stone unturned to be able to master your craft? How about sacrificing many things in life to be able to obtain the level that you might need to work on a worldwide platform and compete with great players of today?
After a major mind readjustment on the students, which they gladly received actually, there were many questions about how exactly they could achieve this.
Of course I gave them everything I know about becoming a great player, my practice system, a very developed and detailed system developed by myself and other top pros. Also mind control focus exercises. But the whole thing did remind me of something. That even with intelligence, even with knowledge of how you can achieve something, probably only 5% of the people having that information will actually do something about it. When faced with the monumental task of becoming a great player, or becoming really great at anything, most people will bail. Most will go halfway or probably even a quarter of the way, becoming satisfied in life with whatever they happen to achieve even if it’s mediocre success.
Some back story
About 20 years ago I was reading lots of books about focus, mind control, studies of Russian athletes and how they train for the Olympics. Books about coaching. In the hopes that I could transfer the concepts onto myself. Most of these books mentioned this exact same problem. That in the face of the great effort it takes to become great at something most people will fail to do the necessary work.
The evidence of this is quite clear now. On occasion I tried to see things from students point of view. Especially now, these days. The music industry is probably in the worst shape it’s ever been. But at the same time I see great players flourishing all over the world. They are an astounding minority but they do exist.
So my question is, everyone out there with a passion for drumming especially… what is stopping you from taking on the challenge? Okay wait I will answer for you or at least for many of you…fear.
Don’t worry it’s a common thing. We all have fears of course.
I can only honestly mention to you what I did to overcome my fear since I’m not in any one else’s head.
The attitude I took on was “I will burn every bridge”
Many people look at that phrase as a negative phrase. But what I used it for was to remove all my other options that could allow me to escape the hard work I needed to do. As another eight hour day of practice face me, I had to make daily decisions. Would I put my time on earth into this, or should I look to another avenue where I could make money. Ie: playing in cover bands etc?. This time studying would be a difficult time not only on my body but financially. So at every turn every hour I continually adjusted my mind and told myself I will burn that bridge. With every day that goes by I burn the bridge of turning back and, for example, becoming a doctor like my mother wanted me to. Every passing day is another day of commitment to drumming and not to something else. That meant burning the bridge to other things. I loved drumming so much that the thought of doing anything else was horrible. So the only choice I could make was to burn other bridges, so they would not be available when I turned that corner where things might become difficult.
Many people look at this phrase as a negative phrase, but I eventually discovered that this was also concept in Buddhism and many other areas of mind control. It is also a part of war tactics. Burning a bridge so that your enemy cannot cross to come after you. The enemy in this case was the pressure, the outside pressure and societal pressure to become what others wanted me to become. (Rich)
It was a delight to see that many of my colleagues think the same way, and took the same actions that I took. One of my friends, very dear friend, during a heart-to-heart talk mentioned that he would rather be dead then do anything outside of music. In my humble opinion this is the amount of commitment you need to make a life in music. His words stuck in my brain for weeks after that conversation. To me it is a beautiful commitment. Beautiful task. A wonderful way to spend your time on planet earth. When you burn that bridge, the bridge that distracts you, the sense of relief you feel is overwhelming. It can also be a source of great pride and motivation.
Having come out on the other side of this whole thing, I can tell you that I had no idea how truly satisfying and wonderful a life in drumming could be. Having burned all those bridges kept me safely on the path I wanted most. 90% of what I dreamed of as a kid came true. The remaining 10% of those dreams were the most superficial aspects of what I imagined as a kid anyway. In retrospect that 10% is meaningless.
I hope you enjoyed this blog. It’s all thoughts and stories from seminars that I do.
All the best
Sent from my iPad 😉