Walking downstairs, I saw my brother, Michael, standing in his music studio with his guitar in hand and a video of Phish’s lead guitarist, Trey Anastasio, looping on a big screen in front of him. Before interrupting, I watched for a few moments in the background as Michael would review 20 seconds of video of Trey playing guitar, then he’d pause the reel, and try to mimic Trey’s actions with his own guitar. After a few minutes of watching him do this, he saw me in his peripherals and turned around to say,
“Whew, this is tough. If I want to be a great guitar player, I have to be able to play just like the greats, and Trey is one of the greatest. Watching him play makes me realize how far I am from great.”
Michael then went on watching Trey and practicing Trey.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. I know I’ve put a lot of work into Swift Kick and my speaking career, but seeing my brother watch and practice Trey for hours, put into perspective what real dedication and commitment to one’s craft really is. I can honestly say I’ve never sat and studied a great speaker’s video and then paused the tape to practice the same skill.
As I sit here reflecting on the whole situation with my brother, the funny thing is that I think my brother is already great…I mean really great with his music. But maybe that’s what it takes to be the best; when others see things as good enough, the best keep pushing. And to be the best, learn from the best.
If there’s one thing you should know about Michael, in case you never get to meet him, is he’s had an unrelenting commitment to his music for years as a performer with his band, teacher of music and a student. If his effort is what it takes to be great within your craft, he’s well on his way to becoming one of the greatest.