Please always feel free to respond / comment on any of the tips listed in these weekly posts. Your input may help clarify details for someone else!
ReCheck out the Chops Rehab and Jazz Improv courses. These are designed to be 4 weeks worth of lessons to help the student gain insights and skills in each specific area.
Keith is available for clinics and as a guest artist!! Please go to our “Clinics” page for details!
Several years ago, I was playing golf in Phoenix, Arizona. As I stood, ready to tee off at the first hole, a little prairie dog stuck his head up from a nearby hole, looked at me, and began to chatter madly. I was amused by this little creature and how seemingly unafraid he was of me.As I stood taking a couple of warm up swings with my golf club, he continued his chattering. At that point I began to wonder what he was communicating to me. Was he criticizing my stance or swing? Was he telling me to leave his domain? Or was he doing what came naturally to him; making noises.I realized that the little prairie dog is a lot like my chattering mind. There are times when my mind seems to go off in many directions, thinking about many things and worrying about others. Sometimes it is like that little animal that seemed insistent upon chattering mindlessly.Although I’ve not played golf recently, I remember that I would first mentally talk myself through the proper stance and swing. As I withdrew my attention from everything around me and focused only on my mental routine, I found that my golf shots were longer, straighter, and higher than they had ever been. The improvement came from focusing and limiting my self-talk to instructions about what I wanted, and not what I didn’t want. I was effectively in “the zone.”
Being in “the zone” is a term that is used in sports to identify the experience described above. As I thought about this, it occurred to me that I am in the zone during other activities, such as writing. It is here that I must tune out all distractions quieting my chattering prairie dog, which is not as cute or entertaining as the real one. I realize that I can consciously choose to be in the zone during the times that I feel so mentally scattered and disorganized.
When I played golf, I make the decision to focus because I want good results from my efforts. I can choose to tune out the noisy chatter of inner and outer voices, and go to a place where I can program for a successful outcome.
There is an adage that I recall often, “where the focus goes, the energy flows.” It seems to me that a lot of that powerful mental energy is lost when my focus is scattered. Each and every moment it is my choice which master I will serve; that of focus and control, or the one that is scattered to the winds. I think that I will focus on the first master. I get more distance and accuracy with it.
Tip #2 – Don’t Get Caught in the “When” Trap!
I was emailing with a student / friend this morning, and we were discussing our practicing over the weekend. One comment that was made caught my attention, because I fall into this trap all too often myself, and thought that this would be a great tip!
When we’re really working on improving something in our playing or even just our daily lives, we tend to ask the question, “When will I see results?” What tends to happen is that we get caught up in the perceived “lack” of progress and start feeling anxious, annoyed, and sometimes even feeling like giving up because it’s just not happening (fast enough).
Here’s two ways we can change our perception on this very thing!
#1 – When I was a young boy, my Grandfather helped me build a Soap Box Derby racer in his garage over the summer. We got to the point that we were sanding on it, so all that fast progress of watching it take shape and look more and more like the racer of my dreams, halted. One day, I was complaining about how it would never get done… My Grandfather laughed, and asked me to stand in a certain place in the garage. He then instructed me to take babies steps no more than an inch long and walk to another spot. It took what felt like forever! In total it was only about 15 feet that I had to try to travel, but the point behind this exercise was simple… I eventually got there! A lesson I will never forget!
#2 – Plant seeds for a tree, flowers, etc… it will take weeks before you see anything shoot out of the ground. And weeks / months more to see marked growth! Does that mean that nothing is going on underneath? No – quite the opposite! While we wait impatiently above, roots are being spread out throughout the ground to help the little plant become big, strong, and hearty! What would happen if just days before the plant breaks the surface, you give up out of impatience and dig it up? That’s what happens when we get impatient with ourselves, our growth, and our progress when we give up or become too hasty!
In life, we don’t get what we consciously WANT; we get what we subconsciously EXPECT.
Have a GREAT week!