Discipline Can Make You Good, Not the Best


(This is a guest post from Scott H Young’s blog) http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/

 

I have a pet theory about discipline:

Discipline can help you become good at something, but it can’t make you world-class.

If you want to be in good shape, it’s not unreasonable to expect success if you put in enough hard work. Same is true if you wanted to be a decent guitar player or a better-than-average writer. Show up, put in the hours, be patient. You can win because most people aren’t trying very hard.

What if, instead, you want to be one of the world’s best guitar players or athletes? Discipline matters, but it’s merely a prerequisite. But now your benchmark isn’t the unfocused majority, but the <1% of the people that are also obsessed, focused, driven and passionate.

When your aim is not to be good, but the best, the logic of “try harder” doesn’t work, because the people you need to try harder than are also following the same approach. Discipline switches from being the key to success, to a mere precondition assumed before you start.

Sink or Swim?

I started thinking about this idea after talking with a family friend. His daughter is around 13 years old, and engaged in competitive swimming. The conversation reminded me of being that age and competing in swimming, except she was actually really talented at it.

This girl was competing in national and international swim meets for her age group. She obviously had a gift, but what struck me was the amount of time she spent training. Up at 5am most mornings to swim for a few hours before classes, and not home until 7-8pm to keep training after school.

The amount of discipline and passion for the sport she possessed was incredible. Much of her life revolved around swimming and she was barely a teenager.

However in this environment, of international competitions, her level of dedication wasn’t unusual. And considering her parents are relatively well-adjusted (unlike some child athlete’s parents who aim to live their ambitions through their children) she may even be a bit less disciplined than her competitors.

If being completely obsessed with the sport and training hours every day while going to school full-time doesn’t even separate you from a crowd of tweens, how can “being more disciplined” possibly make you world-class?

You Can Be Good at Many Things. You Can’t Be the Best at Everything

Last week’s post about the reality of trade-offs in lifestyle decisions sparked a lot of reader comments. Many people disagreed with me, pointing out supposed examples of how people can excel in many different areas of life without having to sacrifice one or the other.

I don’t disagree with them, but I think it depends on how you frame the issue. If you want to be good in several major areas of your life, you can probably accomplish it.

Right now, I feel almost all major areas of my life are good or great. My business is doing well, I’m in decent shape, I’ve been traveling and although recently moving has flipped up my social life again, I’m confident that will be rewarding too.

But all those things are issues of being “good”. While being good at anything isn’t easy, and it requires a fair bit of work, it is a qualitatively different challenge than being world class.

Choosing To Be The Best or Just Good Enough?

The discussion from this and last week’s article bring up two questions in my mind:

  1. What do you want to be the best at, merely good enough and what will you ignore altogether?
  2. How will you define “the best” narrowly and creatively enough to allow you to succeed and to still live an enjoyable life?

As for the first question, being the best has both high rewards and high costs. High rewards because being #1 often pays disproportionately to being #2. As Cal Newport explains:

“In other words, both Florez and Pavarotti are exceptional tenors, but Pavarotti was slightly better — the best among an elite class. The impact of this small difference, however, was huge. Whereas we estimated that Florez was well off but not wealthy, when Pavarotti died in 2007, sources estimated his estate to be worth $275 to 475 million.”

But with the high rewards come high costs, as the competition becomes just as smart, fierce, talented and, yes, even as hard-working as you are. Discipline and ruthless focus switch from being decisive factors in winning to mere entry fees just for a chance to play the game.

Therefore, it makes sense to aim to be the best at a tiny minority of your life, perhaps even one sole pursuit.

Is Polymath a Dirty Word?

I think it’s certainly possible to be good, if not great, at several different skills. I know people who are decent artists, musicians, history buffs and make a good living with happy personal lives. Talents often support one another, so being good at one enhances your skills in another.

I don’t believe polymath pursuits are a bad thing. If you have multiple interests, why not try them all out? Learning new things is part of what makes life interesting. Even if your guitar lessons don’t lead to a record deal, that doesn’t mean they were a waste of time.

But my sense is these polymath pursuits, and indeed how well you master the multiple areas of your life, are deeply connected to how you answer the first question. If you decide to be the best in a fiercely competitive field, you either need to make heavy sacrifices with no guarantees of success, or be lucky and talented enough to get away without needing them.

If, in contrast, your answer of which pond you want to be “the best” at is not swimming with sharks, you make it easier to succeed in life’s other pursuits and decrease the chance that you’ll drown.

One way to do this would be to select a pond that is small enough that you can succeed without becoming a slave to your ambition.

Perhaps a better way is to creatively redefine the ponds, so that you can succeed (often on the strength of multiple talents) because nobody realized you could swim there.

Redefining the Game

My friend Benny has been enjoying a lot of success from his blog. In speaking eight languages fluently, he certainly deserves it. But as Benny explains, as far as polyglots go, he isn’t unusual. As part of his guide he interviewed people who speak 30+ languages to varying degrees of fluency.

In response to this, he explained to me:

“My goal isn’t to have the most languages, but maybe to be the best extrovert polyglot.”

Instead of trying to be the person with the most languages (a nearly impossible task) he redefined his mission to focus on the speaking, travel and social aspect of the languages which makes his job of being unique and world-class much more achievable.

Discipline is a necessary ingredient. But, in aiming for something remarkable, perhaps success owes less to the brunt force of effort, and more to guiding that effort in an uncommon direction.

The Mind Controlling Media.


AOL Time Warner, Viacom, The Walt Disney Company, Vivendi Universal, and Sony are the media giants who rule our nation. Does it surprise you that these are the ones that control everything?  They control 25% of the US music sales, the entertainment Industry, and basically our society. Have you heard the lyrics that are in the top 20 of the Billboard charts? Most of these lyrics talk about mind control, war, suicide, secret societies, and demonic possession. What saddens me is that parents, the most important figures in children’s lives are permitting that they hear, buy, and “worship” artists such as Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Hanna Montana, among others. Today’s music, fashion, and propaganda have a great influence on society by shaping its opinions, molds its tastes to the point that its turning individuals into robots. But who noticed these effects in the first place?

In 1928, Edward Bernays (E.B), an American pioneer in public relations wrote “Propaganda” a book in which he stated that in order to assist clients, the public relations counselors use social psychology, sociology, among other sciences to fully understand society; thereby, they scientifically manipulate public opinion. I agree with Bernays when he stated  that those who control and manipulate society are an unseen government who are the true rulers of the world. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.” Propaganda by E.B. The unknown government knows which levers to pull and buttons to press, for they understand the mental process and social pattern of the masses what we buy, share, hear, and accept. What do you think of when the term “collective unconscious” comes into mind?

Founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung wrote on his most important and misunderstood book “The Concept of the Collective Unconscious” that “in addition to our immediate consciousness, there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical to all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually bit is inherited.”  This collective unconscious is what the media successfully manipulates and controls; thereby, controlling society itself. How does the media gain control? By constantly bombarding our subconscious with subliminal messages; the best case example is none other than the 9/11 incident and why everybody took for a fact that it was Iraq was the culprit and that it had weapons of mass destruction. Even though there are millions conspiracy theories, why did everybody blame Iraq? That unknown government, which consists of only a handful of people had manipulated the media so that the American society believed that said nation was the culprit. Another way of manipulating media is by using subliminal messages on T.V commercials, music and music videos.

Subliminal perception is one of the many techniques in which the media uses to control and subdue society. The concept of “subliminal perception” is attributed to US market researcher James Vicary in 1957 who said that to increase popcorn and Coca Cola consumption at the movies one must flash said messages on screen for a short time, a technique that the Cinema business still used today. Another technique is the famous “sex sells”. Although some sources claim that this is ineffective, there have been many studies that states that the use of this technique is used frequently and proves its effect if the message is a negative one.  Some examples are the word sex on axe bottles and on skittles bags; pictures of oral sex on Coca Cola ads; the world rats on ex-president’s Bush advertisement against Al Gore in 2000, among many others.  Another method and personal favorite is desensitization.

Desensitization is when a subject or a train of thought is not accepted by society and is slowly, gradually and repeated introduced in movies, music videos, or news. After many years of exposing the theme to the masses, the media exposes the concept and it is passively accepted. An example of this are today’s music videos and artists such as the rapper Jay-Z and his song “Run This Town”, Shakira’s “Give It Up to Me” and most of Lady Gaga’s songs such as “Telephone”, “Bad Romance”, and “Paparazzi” which all talk about mind control, civil wars, and demonic possession. The problem here is that parents do not pay attention to said lyrics and instead reinforce their children or teenagers to continue listening to the songs thus letting the younger generation think that the younger generation that what they see and hear is good for them. This is exactly what the media wants and gets.

As stated before, they are five media giants that rule the United States of America. As Confucius once said “Symbols rule the world, not words nor laws”, this is how the media controls society by using occult symbols or hidden messages on the radio, television, movies, newspapers, magazines, books,  video games, and the internet. Nobody likes the idea of being controlled by anyone, so we have to rebel against these monsters and fight. How? By not promoting the artist who are getting paid to spread the message and maybe create a better world without getting sucked on the media crazed and not doing what Shakira sings and “giving it all up to them”.

Mozart and His Little Effect.


This is another essay I have to write for my English Course hope you like it. As usual feedback is appreciated

After many years of research, psychologist Dr. Rausher and neurologist Dr. Shaw revealed to the unsuspecting world that Mozart’s music had positive effects on children, teenagers, and adults. Mozart’s Music is perfect for its phrases, periods, and movements result in balanced, nimble, and crystal-clear pieces which are recognized throughout the world; for instance, his Sonata for piano #24 and his Lacrimosa in his unfinished Requiem. These pieces, with their melodies, harmonies and counterpoints, significantly improve children’s motor skills and help them focus on their studies for a short period of time. Mozart left us with a beautiful legacy from which the human mind can benefit thanks to its perfect harmonies, logic, and genius.

“The Magic Flute,” “Don Giovanni,” “Cosí fan tutte” and “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” are examples of the prodigy that was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Whether improvising on the harpsichord or on the violin at the tender age of eight, Mozart wrote his first work of art- a symphony; when his father saw this, he dedicated his life to teaching his son music. Mozart played concerts through London and Europe when he was fifteen years old; powerful, humble, mesmerizing, and beautiful were his melodies that the great composers and musicians of the era called him a prodigy. Consequently, the critics craved for more and even though Mozart’s genius gave us pieces such as “Ave Verum Corpus,” one of his most recognized choral pieces; unfortunately, he died at age thirty-five when he was just finishing his Requiem, the Mass for the Dead. But what is this Mozart Effect people are talking about?

In 1993 in the University of California some human test subjects, 36 high school students, became part of the Mozart Effect experiment, in which after the heard Mozart’s Sonatas these students were given a standardized test. The result of this test showed an increase in the temporal spatial levels among other results. Dr. Tomatis, in 1997, wrote that whether or not his patients liked Mozart’s music, they were more relaxed and made them express themselves more easily and openly to him; thus his conclusion was that Mozart’s music has the ability to heal the patient’s heart and clear their brain. As a result of both Shaw’s and Tomatis publication, The Mozart Effect gained worldwide attention in a matter of minutes, for many teachers, professors, and parents adapted said effect onto their students and children respectively. This effect is lasts in periods of five to ten minutes.

The Mozart Effect on children is highly effective, especially with those students from kindergarten to third grade. My sister, a Second grade teacher, did a little experiment where she gave the first test of the semester with a “normal” ambiance (without music) and her students received average grades; however, on the second test she administrated a math test where the students heard Mozart’s Piano Sonata #21, the students who got a C or C+ on their first test received a B, B+, or A on their second test. From that day on my sister, Mrs. Clavell, administers all of her tests with classical music. Parents and teachers alike misunderstand the concept of the Mozart Effect, for they believe that if they don’t have Mozart’s music, the effect won’t work and they are sadly mistaken; for example, you can use Beethoven, Vivaldi, or Pachelbel’s Canon and still observe the same results. Children, who are exposed to this kind of music, as commented before, improve their IQ, focus, and motor skills.

The Mozart Effect is an area that unites pedagogy, parenting, music, and psychology. Mozart is one of the greatest composers of our time, for his nimble, humble, and mesmerizing melodies that captivate our hearts and clearly our brains. Mozart and his effect clearly has had a positive impact on us; hence the studies continue to grow and the testimonials of parents and teachers alike of how this effect works. So greatly is the impact of this effect that Disney has used this effect in marketing, with its most popular infant and toddler merchandise called “Baby Einstein.” These DVDs and CDs use classical music with colorful stories and toys to capture toddlers’ attention and with games they start to recognize musical patterns, rhythms, vowels, and words. Mozart shall live on in our lives and in many years to come, new scientists and musicologists will still try to unlock the mystery behind Mozart’s music.

Time traveling with music


This is one of the many assignments I have done this semester in my English 224: Grammar and English Writing with our Professor Dr. Ana Montero. She is wicked awesome and truly knows her grammar and English history. What can I say… she has a PhD in LINGUISTICS. I hope you like it. Its supposed to be an Classification Essay and I wrote about people memories and places I have been at. Feedback is wonderful as usual.

How can a song from a certain decade make you remember an experience or feeling from your past? Why do these songs, through their lyrics or harmonies, stay on society’s mind and are guarded with such care? Maybe it’s because they have influenced your decision-making or train of thought on a particular subject. The songs we listened in class made me reflect on places I have visited, the people I have met, and some of the best memories of my life.

When I heard “Let’s twist again” by Checker it reminded me of “Surfing USA” by the Beach boys, and for a moment, I re-lived the vacation I had with my family in Culebra, and all the music I heard on the beach. When we went to Flamenco beach, one of the songs we heard was “It’s my party” by L. Gore which everybody was chatting about the “good old days” and how the world’s situation was at that time. Looking back on this vacation, I remember the peace, tranquility, and fondness I had at night which reminds me of “Can’t take my eyes of you” by F. Valli & 4 Seasons which makes me want to go Culebra again.

After the audio excerpts, I automatically thought of three people in my life who are part of the university choir: Sheila Cruz, Aledra Rodriguez, and Yaletza Peralta. You may ask yourself “why”? The answer is because they are fans of the following songs “Bad Girls” by D. Summer, “Mama Mia” by ABBA, and “The way you look tonight” by T. Bennet. Since they know these lyrics by heart at any given moment on any given day, they will (by a force of unknown magic) harmonize these songs in such a creative way that after five minutes you’ve experienced these songs with a whole new arrangement.

“Killing me softly” completely re-awoke some of the best memories in my life. When I started to study music seven years ago; in my first semester my choir teacher gave me a solo, and I felt just like R. Flack.On the day I had to sing, I thought it was going to be awful, but it went surprisingly went very well. All of those feelings of wanting to die with what felt like a lead ball in my stomach paid off because the song sounded well, and everybody liked it. Also “Un-break my heart” reminded me of the time in my senior year when I had to choose between singing and playing in my last concert in the Institute or going to my high school graduation; this was the hardest decision I had to make in my 20 years on this Earth. After careful consideration, I chose to go to my high school graduation because my Alma Mater is very important for me, for it is where I have spent 14 or more years. And I knew it would not be the last concert I would participate in my life. Furthermore, I won’t forget during that senior year when I directed the String Ensemble on the last activity of the semester. That experience made me realize what I wanted to do with my life: to conduct, direct and compose for Ensembles and choirs.

Places, people, and memories are some of the things you will carry in your life forever. Based on that premise is what an individual must have in mind every day. All of the experiences we will have in your life, for better or worse, will teach you a lesson in which you must try to practice each day. Whether it’s classical or popular music, music will consequently make you remember your past experiences and thus make you reflect in life itself.

No air


Don’t know why but I feel like this today… And I feel like the glee version of the song ….

If I should die before I wake
It’s ’cause you took my breath away
Losing you is like living in a world with no air
Oh

I’m here alone, didn’t wanna leave
My heart won’t move, it’s incomplete
Wish there was a way that I can make you understand

But how do you expect me
to live alone with just me
‘Cause my world revolves around you
It’s so hard for me to breathe

[Chorus]
Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air
Can’t live, can’t breathe with no air
It’s how I feel whenever you ain’t there
It’s no air, no air
Got me out here in the water so deep
Tell me how you gonna be without me
If you ain’t here, I just can’t breathe
It’s no air, no air

No air, air – No
No air, air – No
No air, air – No
No air, air

I walked, I ran, I jumped, I flew
Right off the ground to float to you
There’s no gravity to hold me down for real

But somehow I’m still alive inside
You took my breath, but I survived
I don’t know how, but I don’t even care

So how do you expect me
to live alone with just me
‘Cause my world revolves around you
It’s so hard for me to breathe

[Chorus]
Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air – (Uh – oh)
Can’t live, can’t breathe with no air – (No – No)
It’s how I feel whenever you ain’t there
It’s no air, no air
Got me out here in the water so deep – (So Deep)
Tell me how you gonna be without me – (Without Me)
If you ain’t here, I just can’t breathe ( Breathe – No – No- aha)
It’s no air, no air (No – No)

No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No more
It’s no air, no air

[Chorus x2]

No air, air
No air, air
No air, air
No air, air

You got me out here in the water so deep
Tell me how you gonna be without me
If you ain’t here, I just can’t breathe
It’s no air, no air

No Air (No)
No Air (No – No)
No Air
No Air
No Air”

When I first saw you…


When I first saw you, I fell in love
You asked me last summer
but I couldn’t  tell you that

When I fisrt saw you
I saw your raw pure talent
The one that now you see
after all those months of thespian-sy

When I first saw you, I fell in love
so hard it made God cry
And now I’m so stupid
That I could follow you stupid
to the end of the world and back
on a balloon ride to never land

When I first saw you , I fell in love
so scared now I would cry a river and ride back
to the land my heart sank
where you told me …. you love me back

Hello… again


I must be honest. I am such a music geek. I went to the Institute of Music Juan Morel Campos, if you don’t know who it is look it up (creator and mass Composer of the Puertorrican Danza) and all of the students left that know me were very happy to see me. And they started to ask how were things and asked me of  my plans for a Masters. I was shocked I think that they knew what I meant with the expression on my face and they only said Conducting and Composition RIGHT??? Wow. Why am I telling you this. BECAUSE ITS TRUE jaja anyways my point is today I was browsing on youtube and found this amazing little video of the Super Choir known as VocalEssence singing one of , world famous composer, Eric Whitacre’s Nox Aurumque.  This amazing piece is in latin and here’s the Translation:

NOX AURUMQUE

Gold,
Tarnished and dark,
Singing of night,
Singing of death,
Singing itself to sleep.
And an angel dreams of sunrise,
And war.

Tears of the ages.
O shield!
O gilded blade!
You are too heavy to carry,
Too heavy for flight.

Gold,
Tarnished and weary,
Awaken!
Melt from weapon to wing!
Let us soar again,
High above this wall;
Angels reborn and rejoicing with wings made
Of dawn,
Of gold,
Of dream.

Gold,
Singing of wings,
Singing of shadows.

If you are STILL curious to hear it AS YOU SHOULD  here is the youtube link!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI_SdYb2HXo

When I first saw you


When I first saw you, I fell in love
You asked me last summer
but I couldn’t  tell you that

When I first saw you
I saw your raw pure talent
The one that now you see
after all those months of thespian-sy

When I first saw you, I fell in love
so hard it made God cry
And now I’m so stupid
That I could follow you stupid
to the end of the world and back
on a balloon ride to never land

When I first saw you , I fell in love
so scared now I would cry a river and ride back
to the land my heart sank
where you told me …. you love me back

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