The GPS that we use everyday stands for Global Positioning System. It is a system of 24 satellites that orbit the earth, emitting radio signals. The GPS receiver in your car collects those signals and decodes them. If the receiver can detect signals from as few as three of the satellites, it can determine your location.
When you’re feeling lost, discouraged or in need of direction, musically or in another area of your life, you can use a different kind of GPS to get back on track. This three-step system will help you focus on where you are, where you want to go and how to get there.
Scenario #1: You go to a concert and hear a fabulous performance. You read the biographical information in the program and learn that the performer began studying at age 3. This player was also privileged to go to the best music schools and study with the greatest masters. You took piano lessons when you were ten years old but quit. You just got back into music study as an adult. You don’t want to be a concert star, just good enough at your instrument to please yourself and bring enjoyment to others. Is there any hope for you, or is it too late?
Scenario #2: You have an important recital coming up. You’ve been practicing, but somehow you got behind on one piece. It’s not coming together, and you’re worried that it won’t be ready to play. But if you spend all your practice time on that one piece, nothing else will be prepared enough either. Should you cancel your recital, or at least not play that piece?
These scenarios, or ones like them, happen to all of us and can make us feel like giving up. But next time, before you raise the white surrender flag, try this system to find your way.
Step One: Know Your Location and Your Destination. Be clear and realistic: what is your real situation? State the facts in the most objective way you can. Even better, write them down. Then write down exactly what your goal is. Again, be very specific. It may help to consider yourself in the third person, as if you were assessing someone else’s situation. It also might help to ask a teacher, mentor or friend for their opinion.
Step Two: Fill Your Gas Tank. You will need some fuel to make your journey. You would never consider taking a road trip without filling up the car, but most of us forget this step on our personal journeys. For this trip, make a list of your particular strengths that you can use to help you toward your goal. Perhaps you’re a fast learner. Maybe you are disciplined about your practice. Maybe you just love playing your instrument. Think hard, and try to write down ten strengths. You may surprise yourself with the resources you have.
Note: Clifton Strengths Finder 2.0 will help you identify your personal strengths. I highly recommend this tool! Young people just starting careers might find Marcus Buckingham’s The Truth About You helpful.
Step Three: Map Your Route. Just as a navigation system gives you directions, you need to create a detailed, turn-by-turn plan to get from your current location to your goal. Write down every step, with a time frame, if possible. Consider how your strengths will help you move forward. Use your own individual talents and gifts. Your map will be different from anyone else’s map, and it will be perfectly suited to you.
Wherever you’re going, send me a postcard when you get there!