Monday, November 26, 2012

Motivational Monday

(Malcolm Gladwell)

When I was a kid, I wanted to play the clarinet. (I don't remember now why I wanted to - maybe the idea of carrying that small, black case around just made me feel important and musical.)

My parents said okay as long as I went to my lessons, which I did. And as long as I practiced. This I also did, much to the chagrin of my family and neighbors.  

I don't remember much of what happened - when I stopped playing, whose idea it was for me to stop playing, if my parents were disappointed (doubt it), if the neighborhood had a party to celebrate (probably.)

I do remember discovering that my clarinet playing sounded like a cow was dying in the driveway. 

Now, I don't think the world lost out on a great clarinet player and I don't feel particularly bad about not continuing since I don't recall feeling a strong pull toward it, like I do with writing. But I can't help wondering what if I had kept going, kept practicing? As a kid, you don't often see beyond the immediate future and in that long ago immediate future, I stunk as a clarinet player. As an adult, I know that the stinking part might've led to some pretty good music, or at least to not sounding like brutalized livestock. 

We need to practice to get good. And we need to practice to stay good

Let's keep practicing, whether it's writing or playing the clarinet or something else you enjoy and want to succeed at. If you really want it, don't give up!    


  1. Cow dying - funny! Yeah, I don't think we appreciate learning something new when we are younger, nor do we have the same drive to practice that we possess as adults.

  2. Alex - I wonder if it's because as kids we're sort of "forced" to learn in school but as we get older, it's up to us to choose what, and if, we learn something new?

  3. I really need this today, Madeline. I've been tempted to set aside my writing until my kids are older and I have more time, but I'm not going to! I'm going to keep practicing. :)

  4. Emily - good for you! And your kids are going to see you going after what you want - what a great gift to give them. :)

  5. a lesson i try to teach my boys daily, esp the stubborn middle one. if he isnt awesome the first try, he gives up... he's a booger!

  6. Oh, this cracked me up! Maybe your clarinet playing wasn't as bad as you thought. I laughed about the neighbors throwing a party to celebrate, awww!

    Love the quote as always. :)

  7. Tara - maybe he's a perfectionist in the making? I bet there's a way for him to direct that stubbornness toward achieving and accomplishing instead of stopping or giving up. (Don't ask me what it is, though. Remember, I have tortoises, not kids.) :)

    Julie - oh, it was bad. I'm just glad I don't have a recording of it to prove it. :)