I loved it when Daniel Coyle, author of The Little Book of Talent and The Talent Code, mentioned the skateboarders highlighted in the documentary Dogtown and Zboys. These outsiders and misfits changed skateboarding forever. Part of how Coyle explains how they developed their talent was that these skaters “trained” in ever changing environments. The Zboys were influenced by surfing but also learned how to skate streets, irrigation ditches, and in a year of drought a plethora of dried out pools. Each change of environment added to their repertoire and talent.
The takeaway for me is to make sure to get it from all directions. For example, I came to Kentucky from Puerto Rico at the age of eight and did not know very much English. (I had the advantage of having a mom that already spoke English). I went to school and was assigned a speech therapist in addition to regular instruction. I also fell in love with comic books, specially Richie Rich, Casper, and Archie comic books. I also grooved on “Sesame Street” and” Electric Company.” I listened to AM radio. I watched “Name that Tune.” I was getting language from all directions. A cat named Khatz did the same thing with Japanese at an older age and built a website called All Japanese All the Time.
Change your environments and approaches but not so much that you actually don’t move forward. For example, I’ve taken a very dogged approach to music theory. I spend five minutes every day moving forward on a little piece of music theory from Theory for the Contemporary Guitarist. Is it the best book on theory for guitarists? I don’t know. Probably not. At the end of each page, I hunt for youtube videos on the topic and see what other people have said about the various music theory topics. I’m learning a foreign language here and I know that to learn it, I will need to approach it from many directions. Every now and then something makes sense. Victory! 🙂
I also make sure that there is time where I am playing and watching others play. The point of practice is getting to the point of no mind, a concept I learned through continuous viewing of The Last Samurai. 🙂 Have fun strategizing and playing so when the self-doubt and “I am not worthy” assassins come to kill you in the dark, you can have your Tom Cruise moment and come at them from all directions. Peace!