Let’s Chat over Coffee- Chapter 5

            Chapter Five

            Thinking why he said yes to Bradley, Colin waddled to the music department at 6:00pm, in his tight black pea coat, black jeans, gray polo and black converse. “He told me he would be in the second floor… but those are cubicles, not ensemble classrooms.” Thought Colin out loud. Passing through a few cubicles, he saw a big classroom with the door slightly opened, there he could see Bradley from the narrow space from the door, Bradley was singing something as he carefully opened the door, tip-toed his way into the room and listened to Bradley sing.

And I wonder if I ever cross your mind

            For me it happens all the time

            It’s a quarter after one I’m a little drunk & I need you now

            Said I wouldn’t call but I lost control and I need you now

            And I don’t know why I could do without

            I just need you now

Colin smiled as he saw Bradley do a concert like jam and the end, and started clapping, startling Bradley. Colin started to laugh as he said “Nice tune… I know you need me now so you won’t fail your literature class. So Mr. Musician, are we going to talk here, am I going to listen to the rest of your concert or do you want my help?” Said Colin in a teasing tone. “How long have you been there?” Asked Bradley embarrassed of what just happened. “Not long, just saw the ending.”  “Oh… good. The rehearsal got cancelled so I got stayed here. I thought of calling you but I didn’t know if you had something. Wanna get some coffee?” Said Bradley as he packed and grabbed his luggage. “Sure. I’m running low on caffeine. Do you need help? You got a lot of things…” Said Colin as he took a good look of everything Bradley had on. “No thanks, I’m used to it. Dad said I would be better just as a singer. No luggage, thank God I didn’t decide to be a percussionist.” Laughed Bradley.

Entering Perk’s (even better than her “cousin” Starbucks), Colin goes to the line as Bradley chooses two black leather sofas with a coffee table in between close to the window. Bradley was placing his guitar, bag and his 3-inch portfolio carefully as Colin thought “Thank God I didn’t decide to study music, my bag is heavy as it is, but maybe I wouldn’t have had such a bad time… I was a pianist, after all.” As Bradley approaches Colin with one of his “award-winning smiles straight out from a magazine” Colin starts talking “I don’t know how you can walk all around campus with all of that. I would die-” “You get used to it. And besides, since you’re a pianist you don’t have to be with all of that. You just go to the room, sit and play your heart out, don’t cha’? Bradley smirks as Colin blushes “You remembered…” “Hey, it’s not everyday you get to know a student from a world-renowned pianist. Since when did you start playing the piano, though? Why did you leave, I mean with a mentor like that you would be competing against 5 year old Asians in Italy or France.” Bradley says as they reach the Brittany, the perky blonde cashier, as he orders a medium cinnamon dolce latte and a cinna cinna  bum bum for him and a medium black coffee, no sugar for Colin. Surprised, Colin utters in disbelief: “How did you know my coffee order?” Bradley smiling replies “We’re here almost every day at more or less the same time. I’m surprised you don’t know ~mine~ and do you want the two bagels you always order with your medium strong black coffee, Mr. Emerys?”  “No it’s ok. You don’t need to-” “Wait… scratch the cinnamon bum and give me 4 bagels. Two regular, one with some pumpkin spice and the other with some cinnamon sugar.” Said Bradley as Colin looked at the wood flooring cheeks red. “You ~need~ to try those bagels, I don’t know about you but there’s a way their coffee melds with the flavors of their bagels… it should be illegal.” Said Bradley. “That’s why I eat them every time I get here.” “So, what is it that you don’t understand about your Lit class that you need my help. Let’s go over where you left your things before they steal your guitar, you can tell me as we wait for the coffee.”  Said Colin as he slightly pushed Bradley to their seats.

“Right.” Said Bradley to himself as his face turned from happiness to sorrow and frustration. Colin watched Bradley closely as he thought what was so hard that Bradley was so frustrated. “So I’m taking the class with Dr. Ellis and I don’t get it… no matter how I study… I fail his tests, he thinks asks the most insignificant details from the selections and it’s frankly killing me. I can’t fail this class, or anyone whatsoever, if not they will revoke my scholarship.” Bradley sighed frustrated. “Ok, don’t think you’ll fail. Just tell me what are the selections you need to read.” Said Colin encouragingly. Bradley took out his book and notes when Brittany called their names. “I’ll get it. You can start looking through my notes, if you can understand them. There’s a post-it with the selections, its neon so you can’t miss it.” Said Bradley.

Bradley got what they ordered and for a second he unconsciously started at Colin. The way his cheekbones looked in the lighting, his paleness, bed hair and the fact that Colin looked adorable. He thought of how Colin was always dressed in black and still he looked beautiful. Wait… Did I just think Colin was… BEAUTIFUL?! Pendragon… calm yourself and act cool. You can’t think of him that way. He’s just here to help you with a test, nothing more nothing less.  As he was walking toward Colin, he felt that the Earth rotated slightly. Having no idea what was happening until he heard a crash on the floor and a sharp pain in his ankle. Colin asked if he was ok, but Bradley was still in denial of what happened. He tried to get up but recoiled at the sudden pain that made him hiss. Um… sorry. Don’t know what happened. Did I trip over something? Bradley said. The only thing that was heard in the coffee shop was Colin laughter at the scene that played before him.

If You’re Busy, You’re Doing Something Wrong: The Surprisingly Relaxed Lives of Elite Achievers

**This is a guest post from Study Hacks** (the Url is in the bottom of the post**


The Berlin Study

In the early 1990s, a trio of psychologists descended on the Universität der Künste, a historic arts academy in the heart of West Berlin. They came to study the violinists.

As described in their subsequent publication in Psychological Review, the researchers asked the academy’s music professors to help them identify a set of stand out violin players — the students who the professors believed would go onto careers as professional performers.

We’ll call this group the elite players.

For a point

of comparison, they also selected a group of students from the school’s education department. These were students who were on track to become music teachers. They were serious about violin, but as their professors explained, their ability was not in the same league as the first group.

We’ll call this group the average players.

The three researchers subjected their subjects to a series of in-depth interviews. They then gave them diaries which divided each 24-hour period into 50 minute chunks, and sent them home to keep a careful log of how they spent their time.

Flush with data, the researchers went to work trying to answer a fundamental question: Why are the elite players better than the average players?

The obvious guess is that the elite players are more dedicated to their craft. That is, they’re willing to put in the long,Tiger Mom-style hours required to get good, while the average players are off goofing around and enjoying life.

The data, as it turns out, had a different story to tell…

Decoding the Patterns of the Elite

We can start by disproving the assumption that the elite players dedicate more hours to music. The time diaries revealed that both groups spent, on average, the same number of hours on music per week (around 50).

The difference was in how they spent this time. The elite players were spending almost three times more hours than the average players on deliberate practice — the uncomfortable, methodical work of stretching your ability.


This might not be surprising, as the importance of deliberate practice had been replicated and reported many times (c.f., Gladwell).

But the researchers weren’t done.

They also studied how the students scheduled their work. The average players, they discovered, spread their work throughout the day. A graph included in the paper, which shows the average time spent working versus the waking hours of the day, is essentially flat.

The elite players, by contrast, consolidated their work into two well-defined periods. When you plot the average time spent working versus the hours of the day for these players, there are two prominent peaks: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

In fact, the more elite the player, the more pronounced the peaks. For the best of the best — the subset of the elites who the professors thought would go on to play in one of Germany’s two best professional orchestras — there was essentially no deviation from a rigid two-sessions a day schedule.

This isolation of work from leisure had pronounced effects in other areas of the players’ lives.

Consider, for example, sleep: the elite players slept an hour more per night than the average players.

Also consider relaxation. The researchers asked the players to estimate how much time they dedicated each week to leisure activities — an important indicator of their subjective feeling of relaxation. By this metric, the elite players were significantly more relaxed than the average players, and the best of the best were the most relaxed of all.

Hard Work is Different than Hard to Do Work

To summarize these results:

  • The average players are working just as many hours as the elite players (around 50 hours a week spent on music),
  • but they’re not dedicating these hours to the right type of work (spending almost 3 times less hours than the elites on crucial deliberate practice),
  • and furthermore, they spread this work haphazardly throughout the day. So even though they’re not doing more work than the elite players, they end up sleeping less and feeling more stressed. Not to mention that they remain worse at the violin.

I’ve seen this same phenomenon time and again in my study of high achievers. It came up so often in my study of top students, for example, that I even coined a name for it: the paradox of the relaxed Rhodes Scholar.

This study sheds some light on this paradox. It provides empirical evidence that there’s a difference between hard work and hard to do work:

  • Hard work is deliberate practice. It’s not fun while you’re doing it, but you don’t have to do too much of it in any one day (the elite players spent, on average, 3.5 hours per day engaged in deliberate practice, broken into two sessions). It also provides you measurable progress in a skill, which generates a strong sense of contentment and motivation. Therefore, although hard work is hard, it’s not draining and it can fit nicely into a relaxed and enjoyable day.
  • Hard to do work, by contrast, is draining. It has you running around all day in a state of false busyness that leaves you, like the average players from the Berlin study, feeling tired and stressed. It also, as we just learned, has very little to do with real accomplishment.

This analysis leads to an important conclusion. Whether you’re a student or well along in your career, if your goal is to build a remarkable life, then busyness and exhaustion should be your enemy. If you’re chronically stressed and up late working, you’


re doing something wrong. You’re the average players from the Universität der Künste — not the elite. You’ve built a life around hard to do work, not hard work.

The solution suggested by this research, as well as my own, is as simple as it is startling: Do less. But do what you do with complete and hard focus. Then when you’re done be done, and go enjoy the rest of the day.

(Photo by RKHawaii)

**This is a guest post from  http://calnewport.com/blog/2011/11/11/if-youre-busy-youre-doing-something-wrong-the-surprisingly-relaxed-lives-of-elite-achievers/