How to Achieve Success
“A lazy person, whatever the talents with which he sets out, will have condemned himself to second-hand thoughts and to second-rate friends.” – Cyril Connolly

Success demands hard work.

History has proven we can’t escape it if we want to achieve great things in life. Just look at the former jobs of famous musicians: Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) was an environmental inspector for an oil company; Chad Kroeger (Nickelback) sold phones. Gwen Stefani scrubbed floors for Dairy Queen, Philip Glass was a cab driver and plumber, Jack White an upholsterer. Even P. Diddy cleaned toilets.  On the journey to success, no one escapes paying his dues.

Still, hard work alone will never be enough.

Plenty of us are already working hard. I know a lot of you reading this are. So clearly, if all it took to be more successful was hard work, we’d all be further along than we are currently.

Success demands smart work.

Author Henry David Thoreau said “it is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” The truth is most people who have been working 10 years believe they have 10 years worth of experience when what they probably have is 1 year’s worth of experience repeated 10 times. To truly achieve greatness, hard work must be coupled with smart work.

That means the the formula for high achievement in anything looks like this:

Hard Work x Smart Work x Time = High Achievement

Applying it to music.

First, I would recommend that you read Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoffrey Colvin and Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.  These two books discuss the principle of mastery in any field of endeavor. They are well researched and backed by substantiated data.  Both authors do a fantastic job of proving that mastery in anything will require 10,000 hours of intentional practice.

So what is intentional practice?

Intentional – Deliberate, meant, planned, studied, designed, purposed, calculated, wilful, premeditated.  These are all words that come to mind when you think of doing something intentionally.  It won’t just happen on accident.  You need to take steps to make it happen.  It will take hard work.

Practice – To do or perform (something) repeatedly in order to acquire or polish a skill; To work at, especially as a profession; A habitual or customary action or way of doing something; repetition or exercise of an activity in order to achieve mastery and fluency.  Do you see a common theme emerging here?  Practice will require consistency or repetition as well as effort.

Intentional practice therefore means that you deliberately put in effort (hard work), in a planned or designed way (smart work), consistently or habitually (over time) in order to achieve mastery.

If it worked for The Beatles…

The Beatles
One of the examples used in Talent Is Overrated is The Beatles.  They had already been playing together for awhile (minus Ringo) when they went to several labels and were turned down by all them.  They then went to Hamburg, Germany and played covers in a strip club for 8 to 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for over a year.  When they returned home to England they once again auditioned for several labels, eventually signing with Parlophone Records.  The time spent in Hamburg allowed the group to hone their skills and sound.

The intentional practice payed off in a huge way propelling The Beatles to super stardom.  Now it’s your turn to take this formula and apply it to your life and watch as your dreams and goals are realized.