Money for Nothin’ and Your Chicks for Free
When I was 16 years old I wanted to be a rock star. Doesn’t every boy? What was the reason? Groupies! It was still a few years before Dire Straits would articulate it perfectly, “money for nothing and your chicks for free.” I convinced my Mom to buy the $99 electric guitar from K-mart and couldn’t wait to get it home and make my rock star dreams come true. That first strum sounded awful. So did the next and the next. I thought magic was just going to flow out of that thing. There were no lessons on YouTube yet, the home computer hadn’t even been invented. My guitar soon became just another prop sitting next to my waterbed in my groovy, poster-filled teenage wonderland of a bedroom. Yes, it was the 70’s.
I can see why my Mom was protesting at the register, “you’re never going to play this.” I had no discipline or stick-to-itiveness. I just wanted to pay money and magically get results like everyone else. It would take 30 more years before I’d muster the wherewithal to go after the guitar again. Driven by the sense of life slipping away, I was now determined to knock this off my bucket list. “I will learn to play a musical instrument before I die!”
I’m 46, it’s Christmas. I’m going to the Guitar Center to treat myself to a new acoustic guitar. I’m going old school, classic, going to start with the fundamentals and build a good foundation. Picked up a lesson book this time. Got home. Flipped it open. What the hell is this telling me? I’m pretty smart but can’t understand the first paragraph. Back to the music store. “Can you recommend a music teacher?” Ralph would become my mentor for the next four years, an old school rocker that shuffled through the Texas sands to get here. The real deal.
I did learn to play the guitar. I joined a band of other middle aged late bloomers. We sang, we played, we impressed ourselves when it occasionally, momentarilly sounded like a record.
I wasn’t committed, however. I didn’t practice on my own. All Ralph asked for was 20 minutes a day. I didn’t do it. The band could tell on Wednesday nights. I loved hamming it up as the front man, but I knew musical talent was not going to be my gift to the world. I spent a lot of time wrestling with it, thinking about doing it, pretending to do it, but I wasn’t committed.
Commitment is either 100% or None, and 99% is the same as none. How many things are you partially committed to? There’s no such thing. You’re involved maybe, but not committed. Once you commit, there is no longer any debate in your mind. Commitment means decision, and decision means eliminating all other options. If you decide to commit, you’ll no longer waste huge amounts of energy wrestling with yourself about whether or not you’re going to do it. You just do it. Decision made. End of discussion.
I took a committment inventory of all the things taking my time and energy and asked, “Am I committed to this or only doing it half-heartedly?”. I decided to commit or quit. It’s tough because the American cultural motto is “never give up, never quit.” Anything? In “The Dip” by Seth Godin, he counsels that some things you’re involved in may no longer serve you. In the beginning you may have found benefit, but be open to the possibility that you’ve gotten everything out it that you’re going to get. If it’s no longer fulfilling, it could be time to shed that activity, like peeling a layer off an onion. By shedding this layer and freeing up your time and energy, you open yourself up to new opportunities that will be more fulfilling. It’s permission to quit. It doesn’t mean failure, but growth.
The groupies wouldn’t have been good for my happy marriage anyway. I set my new bar low (which is one of my secrets of success). I chose just a few things that I was willing to commit to 100%. If it didn’t meet that standard, I chucked it. If it stayed on the list, there’d be no more debate, I’m just going to do it. I committed only to, advancing my speaking career at Toastmasters, flossing my teeth and meditating daily, and doing three blog posts/quotes per week for you guys. That’s it. Liberating. It felt great.
Being able to honor my own commitments caused me to feel successful. Dropping the half-hearted commitments freed up precious hours every week. Over time, new things, more fulfilling things took their place, more family time, yoga, writing, teaching workshops, etc. I can still play the guitar (sort of), and gained an incredible understanding and new appreciation for the subtleties of music and the effort expended by musicians. I got what I needed. It’s time to move on.
All you need is a touch of discipline to be successful, just enough for Momentum to take over and make everything easy. This is the topic of the next Free Weekly Tuesday 30 min. Call at 12 noon (CDT) Click here to sign up and be on the call.
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