In order to be super motivated to practice you must:

  1. Imagine a reward much greater than the work you have to put in to get it
  2. Believe that you can actually achieve it

Motivation comes from the good bargains in your life. Whenever you want something and you act on it, it’s because you think the effort to get it is a small price to pay for the reward you get.

In other words: When great guitar skills become what you desire and you perceive the work involved to be a small price to pay for them, then you will be super motivated – if it wasn’t for the number two on our list: your internal doubt as to whether you will get the reward after having put in the work. This is, by far, the most common killer of guitar dreams that I have come across and we’re born with it.

If I told you that I would give you a million dollars if you ran 10 miles every day for a year you would probably do it, depending on how much a million is to you and the pain you would associate to running ten miles every day.

The most successful chain of burger restaurants isn’t the best…

But if I changed that offer slightly and said, “maybe I will give you the reward and maybe not” then how motivated would you be? It would make quite a difference right? Human beings do not like uncertainty when it comes to bargains. We like to know what we’re getting for what we are putting in. That’s why the most successful chain of burger restaurants isn’t necessarily the best – but it’s the one that delivers the same quality of experience every single time.

If you doubt your own abilities you don’t necessarily know that you do. Because this doubt seems to be based on proof. You say things like “I’m an old dog, I will never get that good.” So you have a reason that seems real. Or maybe it’s more something like: “My fingers just can’t do that sort of thing” So it’s a physical limitation – Or so you believe. What ever it is, it will seem very real to you and that’s why it has so much power. 

Everyone has this doubt in their own abilities. We believe something when we see the proof of it. Until then, we’re merely hoping to get those skills. You might be enthusiastic, passionate and full of expectation, but you won’t be truly convinced that you will succeed until you actually experience it – unless something very powerful has been installed in your psyche:

A total faith in yourself that you can learn to do anything.

This faith is built through the creation of solid proof that you can do anything. You build this proof yourself as you gradually remove any doubt in yourself completely. But you can’t remove this doubt by pretending it’s not there or by saying affirmations out loud to yourself in front of the mirror each day. Doubt is only removed completely by one single thing: Proof of the opposite. Nothing can replace hard evidence in the courtroom.

Please keep that connection locked in:

  1. Doubt in your own abilities is the number one reason for lack of motivation
  2. The way to remove doubt is to prove to yourself you can do it
  3. The only way to do that is to focus on mastery now.

“Kill the snake of doubt in your soul, crush the worms of fear in your heart and mountains will move out of your way”

Kate Seredy


My previous blog post is only about the concept of mastery. The discipline of mastery is a core element in developing your skills so please read it if you haven’t already. The trick is to show your brain that you can learn to do a little part of the magic at mastery level. Everytime you truly master something it becomes proof that you can master other things. And when you make mastery your primary focus you will collect proof after proof that you can learn to do anything.

Instead of practicing something to the level of “good” you take it all the way to mastery. You become as good at it as the best in the world, right away. Instead of creating a mediocre skill that only servers as a demotivator, proving that you can’t really learn anything really well, you take small things all the way to mastery, with no hesitation.

If you keep moving your skills into the mastery level area then you will accumulate an overwhelming amount of proof that removes all doubt from your mind. And that is magical. Now you absolutely believe with every part of your body that you can do it and that any effort on your part leads to rewards much greater than the effort you put in.

If someone said “You can’t learn to do that!” you would hear it as complete nonsense.

In fact, you don’t have to focus on believing it all the time because every experience you have tells you that it is so. It’s not a matter of “having faith in yourself” anymore. You just believe that you can do it on the same level that you believe that you’re a human being. If someone came along and said, “Hey, you’re a dog” you wouldn’t even consider whether that statement was true or not. When mastery is your ever-present focus, you feel that way about your abilities as well. So if someone said, “You can’t learn to do that!” you would see it as complete nonsense.

When there is no doubt left your passion can develop freely. There aren’t any limitations anymore. Everything is just a matter of following the same path you are following now: The path of mastery. If anyone asks you if you could learn to master the violin as well you say, “of course!” with no hesitation. Because of course you can. No problem. Really.

But this reality doesn’t become true until you decide to go for mastery instead of “good”


It’s easy to fall in love with our excuses because they maintain the status quo. And even if mastering our instrument at an incredible level would lead to all kinds of great things, the safest and most comfortable place is always here. Changing things are always potentially painful since we don’t know what we will get in the future exactly.

Your perceived limitations allow you to do nothing other than what you are doing now. If your fingers are too short, then why bother practicing right? If you don’t have the time anyway, then why would you start? If you’re too old to suddenly develop world class skills, then there really is no point in trying to change that?

Any imagined limitation will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you don’t have the time, you really won’t have time because the actions you take from this belief will show you that you really don’t have enough time! If you believe your fingers are too small they will be, because the decicions you make on the basis of this belief will create results that confirm that “fact” that your fingers really aren’t long or big enough. No one has put it more accurately than Henry Ford:

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right”

Henry Ford

There is no excuse. That doesn’t mean you have to go for mastery. It just means that there is no excuse not to, other than: I don’t want to.

So do you want to or not? The game starts when your love for your instrument overshadows the love you have for your excuses. And there is no right thing to do. There is no choice that is of higher quality than the other. It’s only about what you want. 



  1. Tom Benardo says:

    Great article Claus. I am totally blessed in that I just love to practice; it is its own reward for me. I have been playing for a very long time, and it amazes me when I get a new exercise that is very difficult… how (seemingly much later) I can fly through it. I have a couple of your exercises that are that way, I am not flying on them yet but I’m so much more fluent than when I first tried them. I think I need to measure the time it typically takes to get from “awkward” to “flying”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kevin Kiley says:

    Awesome post as always Claus- It makes me realize that the small steps really are more important. Now time to go learn a “small” part of Yngwie’s repertoire- both for my ear training and technique. Master a short section, repeat, master it all! Thanks for blogging- keep up the good work brother!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Scott says:

    What a joy it was to receive an email from you this morning announcing this latest blog post! I have read it three times and once out loud to my wife who is a drummer. So, it is not that your posts are inspiring – I think that comes from within. BUT that your posts often deal in the realm of “distinctions” – those ideas that you didn’t know you didn’t know and once encountered, you can’t unlearn them. Kind of like learning to ride a bike. Once known, unforgettable. So your posts are inspiring in the fact that one can take these tools, ideas, distinctions and then apply them to your life IF YOU WANT TO. I love the end of your post where you really wrap it up by saying you can have it if you want it. How empowering and I think, completely real. Thanks for helping us with the tools to make those choices.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Vane Satie says:

    I enjoy your writings. Could you please help clarify how, “Any imagined limitation will become a self-fulfilling prophesy” yet earlier you state, “you can’t remove this doubt…by saying affirmations.”? How are affirmations different than any imagined reality regardless of if it’s seen as positive or negative?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are not. You could perhaps replace the word “Imagined” with “believed” since they difference lies in what you actually believe to be true versus what you would like to believe. You don’t believe things because you repeat them over and over. You believe things because they appear true to you.


  5. paolo says:

    Very inspiring as usual Claus. The core of your teaching “master a little to master it all” can be applied to anything you want to learn, not just playing an instrument, and it works…. really “mind opening” stuff, thanks
    keep on rocking

    Liked by 1 person

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