2012-08-03

A Song A Day

I am incredibly reluctant to write this post. I am worried that I will not be able to live up to the endeavor I am about to describe.

However, my journey through the world of self-improvement is a journey involving a lot of substantial challenges. A challenge that can be easily accomplished is not much of a challenge; rather, it's more like a task. A challenge is by definition something that a person is not sure whether he can complete. It is, in a word, challenging. If it weren't, it wouldn't be a challenge. (Duh.)

Before I tell you about my challenge, the nature of which you have probably guessed already in reading the title of this post, I would like to say a few words about fearlessness and challenge.

Many people are so reluctant to fail that they never truly challenge themselves. The only "challenges" they're willing to take on are things that they definitely, positively, certainly know they will do. This sentiment strikes me as being an artifact of the softness of modern society. We announce easily attainable goals to the world, reach them, and then bask in appreciation from our family and friends.

I don't mean to come down harshly on people here, but in my opinion it's important not to devalue achievement. One could easily "challenge oneself to eat an entire bowl of oatmeal for breakfast," but that is obviously not much of a challenge, and it would be worrisome if that person's peers lauded his/her accomplishment. Hurrah! You ate the entire bowl of oatmeal! Kudos!

Part of the reason running a marathon is a real challenge is that even experienced marathoners don't know for certain whether they will finish the race when the starter pistol fires. It is not until 75% of the race is over that a runner starts to gain some perspective into whether he or she will reach the finish line.

That's a challenge.

What this implies is that, if you set a lot of true challenges for yourself, you will probably not accomplish all of them. If you do it right, you will probably only accomplish about 50% of what you ask of yourself.

A 50% success rate doesn't seem very "encouraging," but this is the nature of trying to push oneself to greater heights. You will often fail. On the other hand, you will find yourself rising to a lot of substantial challenges, and that's a good thing.

I am not afraid of failure, because I like to challenge myself. If you challenge yourself, you should not be surprised if you fail. You should never be ashamed of it. If you really did ask yourself to do something beyond your current capability, then a success is a real success. A "failure" isn't really a failure, per se, just something you didn't have it within you to accomplish. You can always try again.

So let's not devalue achievement by maintaining low standards and melodramatic levels of encouragement. Instead, let's value achievement by routinely asking ourselves to do difficult things, being happy when we do them, and being unafraid and unashamed of failure.

My Challenge
I find myself in a situation where I am being asked to learn a large amount of musical material in a very short period of time. To accomplish this, I aim to cut things up into manageable chunks. As Benjamin Franklin write, "Little strokes fell big oaks."

For the next little while, I intend to learn a new song every day. Along the way, I would like to blog about the song and what I've learned from it, discussing the finer points, what I like and dislike, and so forth.

This is a challenge not because learning songs is difficult, but rather learning them consistently one-per-day and blogging about them will take dedication and concentration. It will take a level of commitment above and beyond what I have dedicated to both the blog and to learning music in the past. I hope I can do it.

But I might not be able to. You've been warned....