Try, Try and Try Again
Last week I was playing HORSE on the basketball court with one of my high school students when a simple "download" struck me. This kid is an incredible pianist with chops like Ray Manzarek (of The Doors) and I have had such a blast working on music with him. This was the first time that we had ever shot hoops together and after keeping it within the three point line for a bit, he started taking and missing this one impossible shot off the court from a nearby balcony. While he was adventuring I kept my shots super simple and began to gain a lead. Then suddenly he nailed it! As the rules of the game go, I made my way off the court up to the balcony and totally air balled it. As I came back to congratulate him on getting the point, my download struck and I said, "Bro, this is exactly why you are such a good pianist."
He laughed and asked, "Because of how I shoot a basketball?"
I replied, "Because you missed that shot over and over again and instead of getting discouraged, I watched you have fun sticking with it."
He gave a teenage shrug of agreement, "Oh yeah, I guess that makes sense. You have to keep trying."
I know this is a simple anecdote for a simple bit of wisdom that we have heard our whole lives, but it was so good for me to get a refresh on it. Every morning I take my cup of coffee and go down to my studio, set a timer for thirty minutes, flip on my keyboard and practice. My wife Shazzy says she enjoys hearing me play, but she is sweet to listen to months of incremental progress as I mess up over and over again on the exact same piece before it starts to sound good. It may not sound like a ton of fun, but I LOVE my coffee and piano time.
When you see that inspiring photo of someone holding a yoga pose, or you jam out to your favorite singer belting out those vocals, or you marvel at that surfer defying the laws of physics to catch that perfect wave, you are seeing in a snapshot years and years of a very dedicated individual "messing up" over and over again. I would conjecture that underlying that dedication is a fundamental enjoyment of the challenge of trying again and again and again, until voila - success!
As we roll into the week and tackle all the different pieces of our lives, let's remember that:
1. Rome was not built in a day, so be patient with yourself.
2. Listen to teenagers: "You have to keep trying."
3. Turn that frown upside down and enjoy the journey you are on!
(Photo Credit John Schaefer)