I’m talking about bringing your kid to the ballet and watching them stare at the performers; or even a basketball player at a pro game.
To become the person, player, athlete, scholar, or whatever you want to be, you have to spend a ton of time observing top performers in those fields, just like a child. I’m not talking about passively watching, I am talking about staring–intensely being absorbed in someone else’s actions.
In his book “The Little Book of Talent”, author Daniel Coyle explains that we live with a “windshield” of people in front of us. Our goal is to fill our “windshield” with images of our future self, and to stare at these images every day as much as possible. He points out that even a brief connection with a role model can vastly increase our motivation, even at an unconscious level. This, I believe, is easier to do these days than when I was growing up thanks to the internet, YouTube, television and recordings.
The more we watch “mere mortals” achieving success, the more apt we are to say to ourselves, “Hey, he/she is doing it, why can’t I??”. This is a beautiful thing: Through technology, we have access to greatness at our fingertips. As long as we are not passively watching others succeed, we can be learning by observing.
How do we actively watch greatness?
Use the engraving method: Watch a skill being performed (musical, athletic, whatever) closely and with great intensity. Watch it over and over. Try to imagine being that person and feeling what it would be like to perform that skill.
Steal when necessary.
Great artists, writers, and performers steal. Yep. They do.
Steal something, then make it your own. For instance, everything I am writing in this post I didn’t come up with myself. Think of this post as a legacy of sorts; I am passing down information from teachers, authors, and others who have passed through my life. I stole it, internalized it, and now am distributing it again with my spin.
All said and done, the first step is to stare. Increase the amount of great people in your “windshield”. Use it as an energy source for your brain. Surround yourself with pictures of your heroes.
As a musician, my favorite thing to do is play some videos of great performers right before practicing or going to sleep.
Try that. It’ll get you going…