Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Choosing your gurus


"A self-taught man usually has a poor teacher and a worse student." - Henny Youngman

How do you go about improving yourself, either professionally or personally? Do you read? Listen? Take classes? Dive in and experience? Do you follow some gurus - specialists in the areas you want to learn?

I've listened to numerous jazz musicians this week talk about the players who have influenced their style, provided some licks for improvisation, or whose professional or life journey taught important lessons. They study the masters that they admire the most and then sometimes even pay homage to them by incorporating a bit of their technique or style into their own playing.

One could debate over whether creativity is diluted when one is influenced overmuch by someone else's work. Yet we are all a product of influences, and conditioned beyond our ability to perceive routinely. Why not choose the influences that you want to put into your brain?

Your guru might be someone you know, where you can establish a formalized mentoring relationship, but proximity is not necessary for their knowledge to be beneficial to you. Read their writing, or someone else's writing about them, watch them on TV, listen to them, go and see their work if possible.

It's said that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. Are you ready to stretch to the next level? If you are, then look around you, in the office, on the news, in the library. Your guru is waiting.

2 comments:

Jim Poland said...

This is a significant concept for lots of folks to come to grips with: "Yet we are all a product of influences, and conditioned beyond our ability to perceive routinely. Why not choose the influences that you want to put into your brain?"

Everyone knows that a successful or aspiring athlete watches, talks about, reads, and participates in almost NOTHING BUT her sport and all other sports that help her to feel like a successful athlete.

Thanks!

Jim Poland said...

keep it up, gal!!