Friday, 31 May 2013

Practise detachment to gain success

  1. Identify, perfect and repeat your winning habits.
  2. Use your winning habits knowing that over time they will bring you consistent and great success.
  3. Detach your winning habits from the specific results you achieve at any given instant.
  4. The evidence will tell you that repeating your winning habits gives you huge and consistent success over time. It is this that matters, not what might or might not happen at any give instant of any given day.

I was in my last year at music college. I had spent three years honing my trumpet playing skills, developing my technique and adopting good playing habits.

The day of my final recital was swiftly approaching and I decided to give a public performance in a local church, as a kind of dress rehearsal.

It did not go well. The pianist accompanying me could not play his part. Even the acoustics in the hall seemed to work against me, making my playing seem distant and thin in tone. In addition, it was a very hot day and the church doors had been left open to let in the fresh air -- and the sound of heavy traffic from the main road. Not unsurprisingly, my concentration was upset and my playing adversely affected. The experience was in no way a good preparation for my final recital, quite the reverse in fact!

I finished playing. A disconsolate blend of half-hearted applause and traffic noise accompanied me as I left the stage. I quickly left the church and went to the local pub to drown my sorrows.

The next day I described the experience to my trumpet teacher. He listened, expressed his sympathy and concern and then said, 'All your hard work and carefully developed technique and habits have obviously deserted you then, and you have become a bad player overnight! Might as well give up!'. Importantly, he said this with a smile on his face, and I immediately got the message.

Over the next week I focused upon consolidating and developing the good technique and habits that my teacher and I had been working on over the years. As the hours and days went by the unpleasant memories of my last recital began to fade from my mind, and as they became more distant I was able to view them with detachment. It was a bad experience, but there were specific reasons why it had happened, reasons I could learn from. 

And, importantly, my good playing technique and habits were still strong and intact.

The day of my final recital arrived. I trusted in my carefully developed skills and habits.
The performance went well. When it had counted, my winning habits had provided me with the success I sought.         

Sometimes, however hard we work, circumstances work against us and we do not achieve the results we want or need.

But if we concentrate on doing the right things and developing the right habits these situations will be the exception to the rule. We will tend to have more successes than failures. At the very least we will be able to get up more times than we are knocked down!

So, when developing a new skill or addressing a challenge that is important to you remember the four points given above. Develop your own set of winning habits. Detach them from the results you achieve at any given instant of any given day; focus on the bigger picture. Trust that your carefully developed habits will win through in the end.


  1. It kind of just boils down to paying attention.

  2. Yeah, for me paying attention is sometimes an effort! Context, stresses, pressures and demands sometimes intrude and focus is easily lost. But point taken.


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