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Instant Gratification

It’s taken me a long time but I’m figuring out the perils of instant gratification. Instant gratification is defined as the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment. Sadly, today more than ever we want what we want and we want it fast. 

I started taking guitar lessons a month ago. I’m privileged to be working with Nicholas Russell (check him out at nicholasrussell.ca). I have taken lessons from a number of different teachers in the past 12 years but something is different this time. While Nicholas is an incredible musician and teacher I believe this time I am ready to be an equally great student. I have set the intention that by the time I’m 65 years old I will be a kickass guitar player. I have 4.5 years to get there. In the month I’ve been taking lessons I have practiced an average of 6 hours per week. That’s like 5 hours and 55 minutes more than I had been playing per week prior to starting the lessons.

The other day Nicholas talked about a famous musician who claimed his music was all about letting the magic happen. The half of the statement was that the magic couldn’t happen without establishing a solid foundation of guitar playing skills. As I thought about this concept I realized my abilities as a musician had been limited by the foundation I had established. There were parts missing. This became a problem when I wanted to do more and couldn’t. I slid into a rut. Picking up a guitar was something I wanted to do but I didn’t. I was stuck. I am now – slowly – climbing out of that rut. 

This concept applies to every part of our lives. When I reflect on areas where I feel I’ve been successful I can see how I devoted the time and energy to building a strong foundation. As an example, I’ve owned and operated The Point for Fitness since 2004. Prior to starting the business I worked for a company that started small and grew. I observed and absorbed all that I could while I worked there. In addition to the hands on experience I read business after business book. That was the foundation building for starting my own business. It took years. 

Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of practicing the correct way to achieve world class expertise at a specific skill. I am not in any way suggesting that we all need to become world class experts at something but I am suggesting that we rethink how we set our expectations. Is it the journey or the destination? I’m not sure about you but there have been many times in my life the destination has not turned out to be what I thought/hoped it would be. I am now finding joy in getting through the C major scale on the guitar. Some days it goes perfectly and some days I trip over the strings. Either way I know that I’m getting a step closer by picking up the guitar and playing it. There’s gratification in that.

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