Last Friday I bought my first bass guitar. The following Wednesday evening I had my first bass guitar lesson. I’ve been learning to play Louie Louie, Peter Gunn, Smoke on the Water, and Iron Man. It’s been a lot of fun, but I’ve also realize something: when it comes to playing the bass… I suck!
And you know what? That’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Think about it. We don’t go from being a beginner to mastering a topic in 1 lesson. Learning is a process, and that process starts with not being very good (sucking) at whatever it is we’re attempting to learn. It’s here where we begin identifying what we need to do to become better and then focusing our efforts toward that end.
When we suck at something, we have clear benchmarks to measure our progress. In my case as a bass player, I’m sure I’ll suck next week too, but not as much as I do this week. I’ll be able to see where I’ve improved over the last week and what I need to improve on in the week ahead.
The problem comes when we equate sucking at something because we’re new to it, with being incapable of learning. As a result of this line of thinking, we often give up way too early without ever embracing the learning process and trusting that as we diligently progress, we will suck much less in the future that we do today.
I encourage you to get comfortable with the discomfort of the learning process. If there’s’ something you’d like to study, learn, or pursue, go after it knowing that you’re GOING TO suck at first. But also know that if you stick with it, you won’t stay there for long.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we often get long stretches of gray, dreary, rainy days during the winter months. String enough of those days together and it can start to impact your attitude, unless you’ve planned ahead for how to keep that from happening.
I’m amazed how much our surroundings impact our attitude. My plan for making it through Pacific Northwest winters (and any other season for that matter) with my attitude positively intact has been to ensure I’m surrounded by things that bring me joy and lift my spirit. For me, that includes things like:
- Making sure the spaces I’m in have plenty of bright light. Preferably natural light.
- Listening to music or podcasts with upbeat or positive messages.
- Spending time connecting with God by reading the Bible and communicating with Him through prayer.
- Interacting with people who are, positive, encouraging, or full of joy.
- Collaborating with people on something that benefits others.
- Having art or pictures around that I find pleasing to view.
My own experience informs me that when my surroundings are positive, my attitude isn’t far behind.
What changes can you make to your surroundings today that would have an immediate and positive impact on your attitude?
Why not make that change right now?
A piano will just sit there and let you bang away at the keys and make a lot of noise, or allow you to use it to product beautiful music. In fact, it’s like that with every musical instrument. The instrument doesn’t care what you do to it. The difference is the musician who approaches the instrument.
The quality of music an instrument will yield is based solely on how the musician approaches the instrument, with regard to experience, skill, desire, passion, and attitude. The more of these qualities the musician approaches the instrument with, the better the quality of music the instrument will return and, in the long run, the better the musician will become.
I think it’s a lot like that with life. A significant portion of what we receive from life is largely dependent on how we are approaching life. Imagine how different a person’s life would be if they chose to approach their life with:
- Eagerness to learn
- A positive attitude
- An expectation of good things to come
- A bent toward action
- A mindset of joy, abundance, and love.
Versus an approaching life with:
- An expectation of bad things to come
- A mindset of pessimism, and fear
So what are you receiving from life on a regular basis? Are you receiving beautiful music or harsh disorderly noise?
If you don’t like what you’re receiving from life, consider changing your approach.
This week I saw the following statement on someone’s T-shirt: “Enjoy it because it’s happening now”.
I love this timely reminder!
With the beginning of a new year, it’s common to focus on goals and what we plan on doing in the upcoming weeks and months of 2017. While looking ahead and planning are indeed both important endeavors, it’s equally important that they not occur at the expense of enjoying the good things we’re experiencing in the present moment.
It seems to me that we create our history, our memories, our relationships, and even cement our legacies by how we choose handle what’s happening to us in each moment.
What kind of memories are we creating when we’re overly focused on the future? What kind of relationships are we creating when we’re too distracted slow down and connect with the people we love and care about? How will we be remembered by the people with whom we have the pleasure of crossing paths with? Will they feel like we were looking over their shoulders to see what was next, or will they feel like we actually cared about and were interested in them?
Once gone, a present moment cannot be recaptured. We can’t go back and extract enjoyment we left on the table from a moment that has already passed. We must be mindful to enjoy what’s happening right now.
With 2017 looming, many people are beginning to express their intentions for the New Year in the form of goals and resolutions. I love this time of year, because it causes us to pause and think about how we’d like to change our lives to be better in the next 12 months.
While we have no problem expressing our intentions, we often lack the commitment to take action that will move these intentions toward becoming reality. Dr. Steve Maraboli states:
“Intent reveals desire; action reveals commitment.”
I would agree. It’s easy to talk about our desires, because it doesn’t require anything from us. The more challenging step is to parlay that talk into action, which often requires a potentially uncomfortable or unfamiliar step out of our norm. Our willingness to take that step is a strong indicator of our commitment to what we say we desire.
Consider this, as you look ahead to 2017; what if the only thing standing in your way of achieving what you desire for the New Year is your willingness to take action?
Are you committed?
No matter where in the world you live, you’ve likely heard the results of the US presidential election. It’s been a circus and I, for one, am so thankful it’s over.
The emotions people are feeling range from anger to jubilation, disbelief to indifference, and everything in between. There is a lot of uncertainty and people are wondering just what their country, their home, and the world will look like in the months ahead. It would be easy to get caught up in all the uncertainty and start worrying about the future, but I think there’s a better way to respond.
Instead of worrying about things that are out of our control, let’s look at ourselves, where we do have control, and choose to:
- Exercise creativity in our work and our personal lives
- Love those closest to us
- Treat those around us with kindness and understanding
- Learn, explore, and be curious about the world and people in it
These are just a few of the ways among many that we can redirect our energies away from worry of uncertainty and focus them on more meaningful pursuits. Pursuits that can make your life and the lives of those around you better.
For me, I also take comfort in an uncertain future by knowing that God is never surprised by events and that He is always in control.
As the world looks a little uncertain, let’s remember that we can still have a positive impact in our circles of influence by choosing to offer the best of who we are to those around us. Although we may not impact the world, we will impact our portions of it.
Of that, I’m certain.
Ever since visiting the Grand Canyon in 2012, I’ve had this goal of doing the Rim to Rim hike. It’s a hike from the North Rim of the canyon to the South Rim and is a very unique hiking experience with some beautiful scenery. Many describe it as a bucket list item. However, aside from wanting to do this hike, I haven’t taken much action to make it happen… until this week.
After talking about it with my wife we sat down, picked some dates and made reservations with a hiking outfitter to do the trip in 2017. After I made my reservations, and paid my deposit (I had to commit money, so I’m all in!) I felt great, because I had taken action that will cause this event to happen in 2017. The part that was so interesting to me was how easy it was to just take action.
I often find myself researching or continuing to think about doing an activity, when instead, what I really need to do is take the step before me. Put even more simply, I just need to take the action I know I need to take.
After I hit Submit on the on-line registration form, I wondered to myself why it had taken me so long to do this. If it was that easy to get on the path to achieving this goal, imagine all the other goals I could achieve over a lifetime, if I just take action and get on the path.
How awful would it be to get to the end of life and wonder how different our things could have been if we had only had the courage to take initiative and get started on the path toward doing some things we really wanted to do?
Is there anything you’ve wanted to do, that you keep thinking about, but have yet to take action on? If so, take action today. Stick your neck out there and do something that commits you to getting on the path and seeing it through.