We all face challenges in our lives. These challenges fall broadly into one of two categories:
1) Challenges largely beyond our control.
2) Challenges that depend on our actions to create the outcome.
The first group includes sickness, aging, tragedy, and misfortune – circumstances that are often beyond our control. I’m going to talk about the second category because our actions determine the outcome. This category includes job opportunities, relationships, and financial success. Learning to play a musical instrument or mastering a new skill or hobby is also included in this group. I’ll also explain what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary.
We’ve all faced challenges in both personal and business situations. There is something that I’ve noticed over and over when I’m in these circumstances that I would like to share with you. Any time that I’ve worked on something that is truly worthwhile there comes a point when I’m challenged to my core. I reach a barrier that seems totally insurmountable. The average response is to back away from the barrier and determine that attaining this goal “wasn’t meant to be.” Looking back on my greatest achievements in life I can see that moving beyond that barrier, getting over that hump was the difference between success and failure. If you don’t get past that obstacle you can convince yourself that you didn’t fail because you didn’t try. Truth is, you failed.
I’ve had many professional successes this year. We began the year with my Speed and Accuracy program followed by the very successful Speed and Accuracy Challenge. For those that didn’t experience the contest I’ll explain. There were over 50 guitarists posting videos through the month of January to win my guitar. It was very exciting for me, the participants and the spectators. For much of the year I’ve been working on our website with Ben Donley. Challenging! Right Ben? But totally worthwhile. Then, in the last part of the year we released more programs over a two month period than we’ve released over the last five years. Quite often I can look back at these projects and identify a point that I could have “thrown in the towel.” Some projects went smoothly while others were unbelievably challenging. Anytime that I reach that barrier, that point when everything seems to be going wrong, I know that it’s about to get good. And that’s the key. When I experience that barrier, and am faced with the obstacle that separates average from excellence, I realize that it’s starting to get good and that I’m on a path to what lies beyond average.
If most people didn’t fold at that point there would be no such thing as average. If a few weren’t able to move beyond that barrier there would be no such thing as extraordinary. I think that from the beginning of mankind going beyond that barrier is what has moved humanity forward. It got us out of the cave, so to speak.
Eighteen years ago my wife and I wanted to buy a house. We cobbled together a very small down payment with the help of relatives and credit cards. I know- you’re not supposed to use a credit card for the down payment on your house. Well, there are many things you’re not “supposed to do” that seem to work out okay in the end. So the loan officer at the bank asked us to fill out all of the documents and assured us that our chance of qualifying was excellent. Then reality struck. We were turned down for the loan. My wife said, “It looks like this isn’t meant to be.” I said, “No, this is when it gets really good!” We figured out a way to qualify for the mortgage and eighteen years later the value of our property has tripled. That’s pretty good isn’t it? Even better, we paid off the mortgage this year.
So, what has this got to do with becoming a better guitarist? Everything. When you’re learning a song, lick or technique and feel like giving up just remember: that’s when it gets really good. You must move beyond the average to excel.
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Doug Marks – written on 12/21/2014