Faced with so many options it is not easy to find a path to better and more satisfying playing.
But here's an example from golf champion Tiger Woods that shows us that small, seemingly insignificant improvements to our guitar skills can give big results.
I came across this brilliantly inspirational quote in EZine Articles interview with Andy Britnell.
"Tiger Woods' average round is only about 3.5% better then the golfer ranked at number 100. He earns millions more by being only a few percent better. Which means you only need to improve by a few percent in order to get much better results."
The significance of this statement immediately hit me, but was it really true? I checked the figures. According to PGA statistics Tiger Woods average score in 2009 was 68.05. The 100th ranked player, Brett Quigley averaged 70.87, which works out to 3.97%, close enough to three and a half. The same result shows up for earlier years too.
If only a small percentage can make such a difference to these golfers, then surely it can do the same for playing guitar.
There are still just as many hurdles and obstacles on the route to becoming a really good guitar player. But these obstacles become much less intimidating if I work on only one small improvement at a time.
All I need to do is find the little 3.5% improvements I need to make. I began to think about my own guitar playing, and immediately thought of a whole bunch of these...
What I Could Improve (Without Too Much Effort)
- Learn just a few new chords or chord fingerings
- Fix a couple of problem chord shapes I always have difficulty passing at speed
- Increase the tempo I can maintain before my playing breaks down by a few bpm - if you go from 84 to 87 bpm that's 3.5%
- Learn and master just a couple of new guitar licks - you'll improve 5% if you know 20 licks and learn just one more
None of these things seem very hard to do, with a little diligent practice I'm sure I can achieve them.
What Could You Improve?
If you feel that your guitar playing is not as good as you'd like it to be and that the gap to becoming better is simply too huge you can take heart from this lesson brought to us from the golfing world.
What little "3.5%" improvement do you need to make to your playing? Choose one small improvement and make a plan to DO it so you reach the next level. Share your 3.5% improvement goal as a comment to make it more real for you and have us encourage you on.
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Photo by Brian O'Donovan.