Master the Difficult

There are many things I’m not good at. Playing the guitar for example. My wife tells me I have the perfect hands to learn playing. My desire to do so is not there.

My son Niklas on the other hand decided some years ago to learn just that. He loved listening to music and he loved my wife Susani playing the guitar. I didn’t notice first he started learning to play. He’d asked Susani if he could try on the old guitar. Sure, she said.

She saw him trying and watched a while. “Stop that”, she said. She gave him her “good” guitar, which was well tuned. “Now you can hear what you are doing!”

He asked questions: how is this? why is that? listen, does that sound alright?

He listened to Youtube clips and learned with his iPod touch for hours. He got his own guitar for his next birthday. He takes more care of that then the car he’s driving.

Now, 3 years later he plays bloody well. Really.

Most people won’t bother putting the time in to master a new skill. They are content with a mediocre result. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a leadership skill, riding a bike, or learning a musical instrument. It all comes down to how bad we want it. How strong is our desire to master that skill to become competent. Are we prepared to put in the hours, learn the basics, then repeat, repeat and repeat.

Are we prepared to hear the critics and value their feedback? Are we actually seeking them out and ask? What about the potential audience – include those guys in your way to mastery. They will provide a different perspective.

Celebrate your successes on the way. The first time you rode your bike around the block. The day you scored your first leadership job. The night you played in the bar and people clapped and bought you a beer. Share those events with friends and hold them in your heart. These will help you when things at times will not work out. The new song you thought fantastic is not finding the resonance with the audience. That difficult discussion with your staff member that you prepared for on the weekend was a disaster.

Remember how it feels when you said the right things, when you found the right tone and then transmit this to the situation that went wrong. How would it feel right? What words, tune, tone, motion were wrong what would feel better? You can draw on those treasured memories and learn from your mistakes.

Do it again, do it right this time, and master the difficult.

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