Monday, December 8, 2014

Your development is your responsibility

Been thinking about this one a lot...

When you're new to a group, simply going to practice is going to make you better.  New drills, new songs, new opportunities, new people to learn from, etc.  You kind of don't have to do much except absorb it all and you'll improve as a taiko player.

To a point.

Sooner or later, there's going to be a point where simply going to practice isn't making you that much better, and a point after that where it's only helping you maintain where you are, but not so much improving your skills.

Here's how I see a person's timeline:

Phase 1: New to the group, learning and improving with every practice.
Phase 2: Been in the group for a while, not growing as fast as before.
Phase 3: Longer time in the group, growth not coming from attending practices.

When you hit that third phase, the only way you can truly continue to grow is to take your development in your own hands.  It's not that you have to look outside your group; you can probably find a lot of opportunities within your group to push yourself and continue progressing forward.

I've mentioned the concept of "Beginner's Mind" before and this might seem to go against that idea, but it doesn't.  Beginner's Mind is about staying open to improvement; wanting to learn new things.  That doesn't mean you will improve, just that you want to.

The hardest part about all of this is being aware of where you are in that timeline; we all hit phase three someday, no matter how good you are.  You won't realize you're there until after you've been there for a while, and then it's up to you to deal with that information.

To wait for the group to "make" you better means you may never get any better.  I realized one day that was exactly where I was, and had been expecting the group to "make" me better.  The group has limited resources and the priority was the newer members, not someone who'd been in the group for over a decade.  Once I realized that, I wasn't resentful, I was enlightened.  The power to improve was now in my hands and not anyone else's responsibility!

That didn't mean it would be easy, but I knew I had control over where I went - and I've been taking steps to continue to grow.  The easier path would be to just stay where I was and hope that *something* would help me improve.  I don't believe in growth fairies, so that wasn't a viable path for me...

So where are you in that timeline?  What can you do to keep improving when the group can't help you as much as it used to?

1 comment:

  1. Went through a phase of feeling bitter that I spent many years practising in my group to achieve only mediocre skills. Much happier since I realized progress at any age/stage is still possible and it's my responsibility to pursue that, not my group's to give it to me. I feel sorry for anyone who believes their growth as an artist is ultimately anyone's responsibility but their own - boredom and disappointment are bound to follow.