There are no shortcuts to Guitar Badassery. But getting the big things right ensures that you waste less time on your journey.
Here are five key takeaways from books that harmonize beautifully.
Ignore them at your peril.
The fixed mindset is an assumption that people are smart, or they are great, or they are talented.
The growth mindset, on the other hand, is the belief that one’s actions can make them smart, great, or talented. The growth mindset is a huge asset, because it replaces the nothing-you-can-do-about-it determinism with an optimistic impetus to act.
The second discovery that she made is that we (parents and teachers mostly) inadvertently program people to have the fixed mindset when we use language like, “you did really well on that test––you’re so smart” or, “you’re so talented at the violin––you have a gift.”
If we instead use language that praises effort, we can program the growth mindset.
So quit thinking that anyone with more talent than you was born that way. They weren’t. They worked their asses off.
And understand that your talent and your intellect are just like your muscles: they grow when challenged.
The central theme of Gladwell’s latest is that things we often assume are advantages frequently aren’t.
This ties in with Dweck’s findings in Mindset. Being naturally good at something at the beginning is oftentimes destructive to someone’s skill in the end.
I saw this twice in my personal life. I was good at school without trying, and I was told I was smart, and that I was gifted. When school did eventually become difficult for me, I quit trying. It was another decade before I discovered that I love to learn things.
And when I picked up guitar, it came easily to me… until it didn’t. I was totally unprepared for the fact that I would need to put in many difficult hours.
Coyle is one of several writers to produce mind-blowing books based on the work of Anders Ericsson. Ericsson is the scientist who discovered what we now call the 10,000 hour rule: true mastery requires 10,000 hours of deep practice.
These days the 10,000 hours part is well-known and much talked about, but the “deep” part of deep practice is criminally glossed over. Deep Practice requires slow, painstaking, methodical, uncomfortable, exhausting effort.
It requires finding the things that most need improving, and doing the uncomfortable work.
It’s also worth noting here that YOU DON’T HAVE TO ATTAIN MASTERY TO BE REALLY FREAKING GOOD.
You can have a good time with guitar with (say) 20 hours of deep practice, and you can be as crazy good as anyone would ever need to be with a few thousand hours of deep practice.
“The Dip” is the tough slog after the initial excitement. On the other side of The Dip is the Good Stuff.
Being a Badass Guitarist, an A-list Hollywood actor, or a successful entrepreneur is the Good Stuff, and it requires getting through the tough slog of The Dip. Most people quit in the middle of the dip.
Only you can decide if your particular dip is worth pushing through.
The lesson here is subtle though. It’s not that you have to keep pushing through every dip. No. Some dips you shouldn’t try to push through. You should quit. They’re not worth the effort.
Quit the Wrong Things early so you can focus your efforts on pushing through The Dip on the Right Things.
But the price of getting to quit the Wrong Things early is that you don’t get to quit the Right Thing in the middle of The Dip.
Ferriss’s book about learning to cook is actually a manual about deconstructing and learning any skill. He just uses cooking as an example of how to go about it.
For me, the part that made me jump up and down and pump my fist in the air was the chapter on sequencing. If you don’t know the right order to tackle a topic, you’re going to spend exponentially more time trying to learn it.
This is something you’ll hear me rant about again and again, mostly because I spent entirely too long piecing this together for myself.
If you want to avoid wasting ten years of your life, I suggest you pay attention.
Wrapping It Up
I really hope that you’ll decide that Guitar Badassery is something you’re willing to push through The Dip for. Once you decide that, I am here for you all the way.
You’ll need some things on your journey.
You’ll need to know that this isn’t reserved for people who were born talented. Those “born talented” people quit when it gets tough, because they didn’t expect it to be hard work.
You’ll need to know that for your practice to count, you have to work on the things that are difficult, uncomfortable, and tiring.
You’ll need to know that you’ll have to quit some of the Wrong Things to get this Right Thing going where you want it. (Might I suggest quitting television?)
And you’ll need to know that the number one thing you can do to make The Dip unbearably difficult, demeaning, and demoralizing is to ignore the proper sequence of learning guitar.
There might come a time when it’ll make sense to focus on who makes the best distortion pedal, how to sweep-pick arpeggios, or some other, similar surface-level crap.
But doing it now, when you have real work to do?
That’s like buying a pair of Jordans and expecting your basketball skills to improve.