Friday, July 23, 2021

No one can teach you how to motivate yourself personally and professionally

One of the things I've been trying to learn in my weekly saxophone lessons and subsequent practice sessions is how to play in what's called the altissimo range.

Without getting too technical, altissimo notes are the really, really high ones that go beyond the normal range of the horn. Professional sax players use them all the time.

As an example, have you ever listened to the opening theme of "Saturday Night Live?" The musical director of SNL, saxophonist Lenny Pickett, plays these insanely high notes, especially near the end of the song while the audience is applauding the week's host. Those are altissimo notes

One thing I've noticed from both my sax teacher Ed and the authors of books and articles on the subject is that it's very difficult to tell someone precisely what to do in order to play altissimo. They can give you little tips when it comes to your airstream, jaw position, arching your tongue, etc. But ultimately, the ability to play up there comes from within.

You have to "feel" it.

And there (finally) is the connection to today's topic. In my experience, the same is true when it comes to getting yourself to do the things you have to do in order to accomplish your personal and professional goals. There are thousands of books on self-motivation, but ultimately, none of them is going to get you where you want to go.

Only you can do that.

I don't know how to describe to my kids, my co-workers, or anyone else exactly how to create that inner spark that gets you out of bed, particularly on the mornings you simply don't want to.

Because, as you know, there are always going to be days when you simply don't want to do "it," whatever "it" is in your life: take care of the kids, clean the house, do your job, exercise, etc. Those are all important things requiring a level of physical, mental, and emotional effort that sometimes you don't want to expend.

How do you make yourself do them anyway? I can give you a couple of tips, but you have to figure out what creates that feeling of inner motivation, become intimately familiar with it (whatever it feels like for you), and learn how to recreate it when you need it.

Going back to the altissimo thing, once you learn how to do it, you just "know." You may or may not be able to describe to others how you did it, but much like riding a bike, you're not going to forget the feeling. You've got it and will probably always have it.

That's where I'm trying to get when it comes to self-motivation. Hopefully, someday before I die, I'll truly understand what the feeling really is for me and how to make myself get there.

Oh, and I would also like to be able to play an octave and a half above the staff before I go, please, if that's not too much to ask.

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