Archive for August, 2013


August.18. 2013

I’ve been searching for the secret of success for a long time and I’ve narrowed it down to one key element.

And that is drive.

Everything else is dispensable.

Take for instance, talent. I used to think that talent is an essential ingredient of success but talent can actually be an impediment to success.

Talent makes things come easily to you and that can create complacency, which will actually make you lose your drive.

That’s something I’ve seen far too often.

For example, a talented guitar player may find that he/she doesn’t have to work very hard to play well, so there’s a tendency to take it all for granted and not value what they have.

And when you don’t value something, there’s little incentive to work at it so pretty soon, they’ve stopped playing.

Whereas a less talented player may have to work a lot harder to get at the same results, which makes any progress they make all the sweeter, which motivates them to work even harder.

Plus — if you have drive, you will make up for any shortfall in talent because that’s what drive does — it keeps you going, and if you keep on going, eventually you will acquire whatever you need to succeed.

So what is drive?

It’s some unseen energy that keeps you going. You feel as if you’re being driven forward continuously by this force.

The amazing thing is that this energy seems to be inexhaustible — the more you use, the more you seem to have.

Yes, drive is the critical element in success.

So the next question is how do you get drive? Where does it come from?

Think about what’s a core component of drive.

What do we think of when we think of a driven person?

It’s a person hungry for success.

And how do you get hunger?

Yes, you got it, you deprive yourself of food.

Ancient Romans knew this basic law of nature all too well. If you want your lions to eat the Christians, you’ll have to starve them first.

The thing about hunger is that it exists at a physical level – you can’t make yourself feel hungry if you’re not, and nobody can tell you you’re hungry if you’re not hungry.

In other words, if you’re not hungry, you’re not hungry and nothing is going to make you hungry.

Not well-meaning words of encouragement, not positive affirmations, and certainly not threats or admonishments of any kind.

This is a point that many psychologists and success gurus seem to have missed.

They all think that if you want a person to be successful, all you need to do is tell them to be driven, and they’ll automatically be filled with energy and drive.

Parents too have this same misconception. They think if their kids lack drive,  (meaning they’re just lazying around the house all day long) that all they need to do is to yell at them and these kids would be filled with energy and drive.

If only it was that simple.

One phenomenon of our modern super affluent times is that of the bored, disinterested, disengaged teenager or even post-teenager. (By definition, a ‘post-teenager’ is anyone who exhibits the tendencies of a teenager. There’s no age limit, you can be 30 years old and still belong to this category.)

For them, it’s party all night and sleep till noon.

If they need some cash, they’ll work at the local fast food joint. There’s no thought of the future, no thought of a career, no thought of taking on the responsibilities of life.

The only things they’re engaged in, it seems, are their hand-held devices and their social media.

You can say that they’re not hungry for success, or for anything else.

And you can’t blame them.

What’s there to be hungry about when you’ve been given everything you ever wanted in your life?

When, if you don’t get good grades in school, they blame your teachers, not you.

When, even if your soccer team comes in last, you still get a trophy because they don’t want you to lose your ‘self esteem.’

And when, if you display an abundance of energy (and drive) in school, they medicate you until all that energy is gone. (True, most of that energy may be misdirected, but shouldn’t they try to re-channel it instead of kill it altogether?)

I can go on but you get the idea.

Deprivation is not a good word, but sometimes, it seems, too much kindness may actually do more harm than good. As the saying goes, you can kill a person with kindness.

Or more to the point here, you can kill a person’s drive with too much kindness too.

Amazing grace

August.4. 2013

One of the most amazing things that happens in life is that moment when you experience a new insight.

One moment, you don’t know, the next you do.

It’s almost as if a fog has lifted and now suddenly, everything is perfectly clear to you.

It’s what you might call a moment of amazing grace.

These moments can come in a few ways.

An event can trigger it.

Something out of the ordinary happens, and instantly, your present reality is turned upside down, and you begin to see things in a different light.

Or it can be the result of a search.

You’d be looking for years, practicing, meditating, and then, suddenly, the truth reveals itself to you and in that instant, you know exactly what to do.

It can come from something as common and ordinary as books.

Books are windows into someone else’s mind, and there’s an incredible wealth of information and knowledge out there, just waiting to be discovered.

Or it can come from other people. A casual conversation with friends, or perhaps a word from a teacher can remove a mental block and give you that breakthrough.

I live for these moments, always waiting for the next one to occur.

And never quite knowing what it’s going to be.

Is it going to be another revolutionary technique I can apply on the guitar?

Or a new way of playing an old tune? (In fact, I’m currently working on just one such tune, trying to breathe new life into it but that moment of AG seems quite elusive for now.)

Or is it another angle on life that I haven’t seen before?

Whatever it is, these moments always bring me closer to that state of self-knowing that I strive for.

It’s often been said that life is for learning.

I say that life is for experiencing – these special flashes of illumination.