Are you prepared to quit guitar?

The DipIn Seth Godin’s book ‘The Dip’ he gives a very good analogy on achieving true success which fits perfectly with guitar. The dip is basically the period between the initial enthusiasm of starting a new challenge and achieving your ultimate goal. Almost every imaginable challenge involves a dip. The make or break period if you like. Those who make it through the dip When we see elite musicians, sports champions, successful entrepreneurs or  political leaders what we are seeing are people who have made it through their respective dips. They have persevered despite the often numerous failures and setbacks. The Beatles for example played in clubs night after night for years before finally making it. When we see Olympic athletes collecting medals we are seeing the result of years of dedicated training. Usually the more elusive the prize the bigger the dip. Learning to use your new TV for instance is a relatively small dip compared to winning an Olympic gold medal. Is it worth it? We often hear and see people who have trained and persevered for years only to miss out on achieving their goal. In fact when the prize is highly sort after and limited to only one or handful of winners most people will fail. Imagine you trained all your life to be the world’s No.1 tennis player and win Wimbledon but during your peak you were simply not good enough due to one or two other players who were simply superior. This would almost feel unfair right? You have dedicated your life to this sport, push through the dip and still failed to win. The voice of the dip This is actually what that little voice in your heads says while you are going through the dip. Over and over again. This voice has one mission in life. To convince you to give up. The voice is the ultimate salesperson relentlessly calling you at all hours trying to sell you on the benefits of giving up. “Don’t waste your time. There is no point. You will never succeed. It’s too hard.  Success is never what it’s cracked up to be” and so on. Ignoring this voice is what successful people do extremely well. Getting through the dip is all about ignoring this voice while also replacing it with positive self talk. The guitar dip Learning guitar of course involves a dip and depending on your goal the dip can vary from say a couple of months of daily practice to years. Around 90% of students who take up guitar begin to enter the dip within the first 6 months. Typically they turn up for their first guitar lesson all excited and literally can’t wait to get started. It’s at this point I will usually explain that while guitar is very rewarding they are likely to want to quit in the coming weeks or months. I basically take the prevention approach to the dip. No matter how committed they think they are I know most will lose enthusiasm and will want to give up sooner or later. My aim here is not to be pessimistic or to dampen their enthusiasm but to avoid a common misunderstanding. Dip awareness Not being aware of the dip is a bit like a Titanic waiting to happen. The Titanic set sail with everyone in charge expecting a smooth uneventful voyage. Their lack of awareness caused them to be unprepared for possible disasters. The Titanic was cruising through dangerous waters and the ship had not been tested against the possibility of slamming into an iceberg. Had they been aware of possible problems they could have installed enough life boats and even had a rescue party on standby. Unlike the Titanic where a potential risk of colliding with an iceberg big enough to sink it was relatively small it’s almost a certainty that you will run into an iceberg (an unforeseen loss of motivation). Preparing for the dip The way to prepare is to simply ask yourself the question? “What will I do when I lose enthusiasm and feel like giving up?” You might say things like ” I will give it one more month and see how I feel” or “I will make sure I chat to my teacher before making any decisions” or “I will at least complete the first level certificate before making a decision” or “I will complete 50 hours of practice before I decide”. Another strategy is to set up rewards for yourself. Treat yourself to a concert or DVD or a movie. Whatever it takes. The trick  is to set up a contingency plan while you are motivated so when the mood changes you are ready. The longer you hang in there the less you will want to stop. As you move through the dip your confidence grows stronger and the option of quitting fades into the distance.

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