Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't... You're Right!
If you have ever watched a great drummer play a certain lick or phrase and said something like, "Wow, that's incredible! I could NEVER do that..." then you need to re-read the title of this article. Go ahead read it again, I'll wait. I took the title from a quote that has been attributed to Henry Ford. And while I don't think Ford ever had an urge to play drums, I do feel that his words should become the mantra of drummers (and people from all walks of life) everywhere because they are the key to success! Think about it. What he was saying is that the power of belief in yourself, the power of positive thinking, can literally mean the difference between succeeding or failing in whatever it is you are trying to do. And in no field is the power of positive thinking more important than that of the music business and drumming.
NEVER say NEVER!
Since first being bit by the drumming bug, I have witnessed performances by many of the world's greatest drummers and I can honestly say that I never doubted my ability to duplicate anything they had done. And it's not that I have some tremendous ego, it is simply a mindset that I have always had. When it comes to drumming, I feel there is nothing that I can't accomplish with the proper amount of disciplined practice. In my experience of teaching and performing at various drum events around the globe for more than 30 years, I have found that my mindset is not shared by the majority of drummers. Too many of them seem to share the "I could NEVER do that" mindset, which serves to defeat them before they ever get started. And while it is easy to talk about the power of positive thinking, it's not as easy to think that way - day in and day out, everyday! But, trust me, it can be done. You can change your way of thinking. Here are some of the things that have worked for me and my students and I'm certain will work for you.
Discourage the Negative, Encourage the Positive!
The first thing you have to do is be on the lookout for negative thoughts. They are very sneaky and can creep in when you least expect them. To stick with drumming as an example, let's say you've been practicing a certain technique for a number of months (or years) and you feel that you aren't getting any better. If you start thinking negative thoughts like maybe you just can't do it or maybe you just aren't as talented as the drummer whose chops you are trying to emulate, stop yourself! Remember Edison's words, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right!" Then have a heart to heart talk with yourself. Tell yourself that you can do it if you find the proper way to practice the particular technique, which is most often exactly the reason for lack of progress. Then, make an effort to find out how to improve your practice routine and keep working on it. If you are in public, it may not be such a good idea to talk to yourself out loud or people may start looking at you funny. But if you are alone, have a blast. The louder the better! And if someone happens to catch you talking to yourself and asks you why, you can always say what I say, "Well I have to hear what I have to say, don't I?"
Five Steps to Success!
There is nothing new about the power of positive thinking, people have been discussing the benefits of it for many years. But even people who believe in the power of positive thinking, at times, allow negative thoughts to creep in. As I said, negativity is very sneaky and it is also extremely destructive. So, if you want to succeed in anything whether it be to improve your drum chops, make it in the music business, or whatever, here are some of the things that I have learned over the years and would like to pass on to you:
First: Think positively and don't allow yourself to think negatively about anything.
Second: Keep a log book and use it. Write down a plan of attack for every single thing that you are trying to accomplish. Even if it's just a few bulletpoints. Every time you feel the negative thoughts creeping in, re-read your plan of attack and figure out what modifications you need to make to improve your chances of success.
Third: Don't worry about people turning you down whether it's for that gig you really wanted, a record label deal or whatever. Look at doors being slammed in your face as a good thing. According to the laws of probability, the more times you hear "no" the better your chances are of hearing a "yes!"
Fourth: Do your best to stay away from people who have a negative attitude. The more you allow a positive attitude to become your normal response, the more you will realize that negative people have a draining effect on you. Their negativity is catching. Trust me, you don't need it!
Five: Do your best to find other positive people to hang with. Positive thinking people give off positive vibes that not only makes it easier for you to remain a positive person yourself, but helps you recharge your batteries as well.
A Healthy Addiction!
So, the next time you get depressed because your drum workout isn't all you think it should be or you just got turned down for that gig or endorsement deal, try to remain positive. The only people who fail are those who stop trying. And while it is definitely not easy to stay positive at all times, once you try it you'll find that it becomes addictive - in a good way! The more you get, the more you want. And there's nothing wrong with that. Everyone in the world could use a whole lot more of it.
Until next time: Stay loose.
Tiger Bill Meligari
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