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Pulling Practice, Not Pushing
This from Twitter in 2020.
A story about human connection. I've played guitar and sang for 50 years. I rarely play for anyone else. I'm haunted by the feeling that I need to be better before exposing myself to others. (Deep roots to this--story for another day.)
I have a love/hate relationship with practicing. Sometimes I do it and love it, the sense that I know where the boundaries are and I know if I'm doing it right. Sometimes I do it and hate it, since I could always be faster and cleaner.
Often I don't practice. It's exhausting not knowing whether I'm going to drift into OCD bliss or savage myself. And then I beat myself up for not practicing. (Don't worry, we're getting to the connection/redemption part of the story.)
You may have seen my guitars in the background of a video presentation. People comment on them frequently. (There's one for every 5 years I've played.) Folks at @GustoHQ [ed: now @MechanicalOrchard] see them every day.
I've started getting on meetings a couple of minutes early and playing. People noticed and started showing up to listen. It's a moment of peace. It's a moment of connection. People thank me for the song.
Here's the thing: I'm not playing anything fancy. Sometimes I'm just noodling with whatever chords come into my head. I'm not sweating through a Joplin rag I've spent 100 hours perfecting. I'm just playing.
Here's the other thing: I'm practicing consistently and with focus. I like my music connecting me to people. I want more of it. Smoothing the path from music idea to sound waves helps me connect more.
I don't have to grind, to force myself to play one more scale. I connect. I want to connect more. I do what's necessary for that. Pull, not push. For me, iron willpower is not the key to musical growth. Human connection is.
Now I'm kicking myself for 50 years wasted. But that's a problem for another day.
I wonder if human connection will also address the skills ennui I often encounter out there. Some programmers are doing a mediocre job & aren’t interested in improving. “Why would I write more-reliable code if I’m not going to get paid more?” Maybe it would help to have more human connection with the people affected by errors. I don’t want to see you waste 3 hours of your time again, so I learn about testing which leads me to learn about design which leads…
It’s worth trying. It’s also worth thinking about why writing better code doesn’t improve material well being.]