Do you feel stuck at your current skill level?
– here’s how to move beyond the plateau
No development of human skills follows a straight line. It is always a rugged ride with exciting victories and frustrating plateaus.
Most people follow a routine of exercises designed to give them what they want. But at some point we all come to a plateau where the strategy we are using stops working.
Any strategy will only bring you so far. And, when the strategy you are using doesn’t bring you any further, it’s time to make some changes.
Your strategy is made up of the practice routine you have and your ideas, thoughts and beliefs about what it takes to get to where you want to go. When you are not developing as fast as you want to you want to look at what you believe about your own capabilities and what you are doing.
Doing more of what doesn’t work
Most people, when confronted with a plateau, begin to do more of what doesn’t work anymore: They practice harder and longer using the same methods and strategies that will not bring them beyond where they are.
The key is not to go into the guitar gym and work harder, the key is to change what you are doing. Educating yourself about what brings the best practice results and changing your approach will always work. And why am I so sure that this will work?
Because anyone who does this every time he or she hits a plateau develops beyond it – and anyone who doesn’t, doesn’t!
You must bring out the big hammer and use the power of your focus. Take one tiny technical challenge like playing triplets on one string or a simple one or two string legato sequence and then decide to become as good as humanly possible at that little isolated skill.
The main reason for most plateaus is that the brain is convinced you don’t need to develop any further and so you don’t. In order to convince it otherwise you need to narrow your focus down to one tiny challenge and then overpower it completely.
In this way you send a clear signal to your brain that you need more skills in this area. Practicing multiple things while focusing equally on them all assures that you will stay at the plateau and develop very slowly.
But by spending 80% of your time on one tiny thing for a month or two, you send an unequivocal message to your brain that “This is not enough! I need more skills here!”
The critical decision
The same thing is true for building muscles: You must bring each muscle to the point of failure to send a signal to the brain that you want more growth. If you don’t, all you will achieve is to stay at your currrent level.
When I was about 16 years old I made a decision to master a simple four note lick to the point where I could play it as fast and as accurate as anyone in the world.
I attribute 90% of my success to that one little decision. It remained the primary focus of my practice efforts for at least a year, although I didn’t focus on it 80% of the time, all the time.
Once you master one little thing at that level, a new pattern is created in your brain and every other skill you practice will be so much easier to learn.
It is THE secret to skill building, no matter what you are trying to become good at. Very few people apply it because it seems counter intuitive to spend that much time on one little thing when you want to master everything. Will you apply it?
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