If you’re heading off on a summer break, throw some motivational holiday reading in your suitcase to turbo charge your singing career.
In the crowded self-help/pop psychology market, a few books have achieved near cult like status. Among them are Peak by K Anders Ericsson and The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle (both of which we’ve reviewed).
A third tome also fits into this category: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. If you’re lacking in motivation, or simply want to sharpen your focus, it’s worth a read.
The book came about after the author (and now well-known public speaker) became fascinated with the notions of talent, stamina and perseverance when she was a teacher. Duckworth noticed that the pupils with the highest IQs didn’t always get the best test results. She became convinced that what society often defines as “natural talent” was no guarantee of success at all.
Often the pupils marked out as being talented were complacent, or unmotivated. Instead the pupils who worked the hardest and took on feedback, seemed to enjoy the most success. Duckworth went on to become a psychologist and to explore this idea in greater depth.
What she found through her scientific studies, and writes about in Grit, strongly aligns with the work of Ericsson and Coyle. Here’s a flavour of it.
To improve at anything, you need to put the hours in
In short, there are no shortcuts. The Japanese call this concept kaizen – the process of making steady incremental improvements as a way of achieving a major goal.
The time you invest in self improvement needs to be focused and directed
Spending hours practising the same scales over and over again like a zombie on auto pilot is not going to cut it. Your efforts need to be purposeful and you need to measure your progress. A great way to do this is to record yourself regularly so you can track your vocal development.
People do change after childhood
Some scientists believe that all key development takes place when we’re young – and the die is cast in the early years (a theory all late bloomers will find depressing). Duckworth disagrees and thinks that people can change, they need to persevere.
You need feedback from an expert
To succeed in any field, you need honest and constructive feedback from someone who knows what they’re talking about. This will help develop self-awareness and drown out negative self-talk that can obscure how we see ourselves. If you’re a singer, that person will most likely be a vocal coach or a singing teacher. They will give you an honest analysis of your strengths and the areas you need to work on.
You can’t do it alone
Support from family, friends and colleagues is vital.
Failure is important
It’s part of the learning process. Don’t view failure or negative feedback as a permanent condition.