Self-discipline and Love

Recently after a talk that I had given, a couple of ladies came up to me and asked me this question, something along the lines of “In your opinion, what is discipline?”. I told them that it is a tough one to define. In fact I wrote an entire blog about what is not discipline, the short of it was “Knowing what you should be doing right now and not doing it is indiscipline”.

I thought about this over the past few weeks and dug a little deeper into my experiences. Here is what I think is true discipline, love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

I used to say that doing things in a structured manner such as following daily rituals is not really discipline. I stand by that, however, I have come to realize that although it is not sufficient to follow a routine to be called self-disciplined it is necessary and very crucial to develop some daily rituals. Nothing meaningful has ever been accomplished without proper daily rituals.

So, first we must establish rituals that we stick to for a while if not for ever. Some examples of daily rituals would be, write 1000 words everyday, run 3 miles every morning etc. Now, doing these daily rituals is necessary but not sufficient to be self-disciplined. We must also develop a not-to-do list, for example, I will not sleep late, I will not over eat. These not-to-dos  (constraints) make us better at our to-dos (rituals). Furthermore, I believe that true self-discipline is one where it is not only following some rituals that make us a better person but also adding love (passion) to whatever we do that makes it the best we have to offer.

I used to think that doing something without actually loving it is not true discipline even if it’s a daily ritual. For example, when I was a teenager in a boarding school, we were made to wake up everyday at 5 AM. We had a rigid schedule for the entire day with little flexibility. Some of us loved it but most didn’t. I did many of the activities just to get by. But within that schedule was time for sports, athletics and drawing on the weekends that I enjoyed immensely. I can tell you today that I do wake up at 5 AM, when I need to, I do study for hours together when I need to, but I do the drawing, the playing, the running, effortlessly, even in the middle of the night. I feel that some of the activities that I did as rituals stuck with me for life because I poured love into it.

I think no one loves anything to begin with, not even ones own mother. Not even the most accomplished piano player or the Olympic athlete love doing the practice for the thousandth time. But they do it anyway, because that’s the price one must pay to be the champion. We first discipline ourselves to do something as a daily ritual and slowly it becomes a thing we enjoy and then we start liking it. The more we do it the more we like it,  then it becomes a daily ritual that we love doing.

When love is mixed with daily ritual it becomes true self-discipline.

Discipline without Love is deplorable – e.g. Adolph Hitler

Love without Discipline is dangerous – e.g. Many parents

Discipline with Love is desirable!

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Applying 80/20 Rule To Life

We debate about staying in a particular place, job, country etc. One thing that helps in these decisions is to apply the Pareto principle, the 80/20 rule.

80% of joy in our life is from the 20% people.

80% of problems in our life are caused by 20% people..

80% of our income is from 20% of our activities.

80% of our ill-health is from 20% of bad habits.

80% of our wealth is in 20% of assets.

80% of our life’s purpose is in 20% of the things we do.

80% of fatigue comes from 20% stuff we do.

80% of fitness comes from the 20% of time spent on good exercise.

80% of 24 hrs is spent in 20% of stuff (mostly at work and commute)

The list goes on, we can create these lists for all facets of our life, health, wealth, problems, joy, education etc and check where the most bang for the buck is and focus on those things that matter.

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Music Student Buzz – SFSKids.org Launches Music And Game Play For The Next Generation

I am thrilled to see a couple of big institutions come together to enhance music learning among the digital native children of today. San Francisco in partnership with UC Irvine is launching their SFSKids.org website for children to get interested and appreciate classical music through game play and interactivity.

“SFSKids is designed in alignment with nationally prescribed music education curriculum standards, and supports learning goals in regional and local music education curricula. The site presents music education concepts through an online environment that motivates users to interact with music and perform cognitive tasks.

Users are able to explore various components of music-making, such as orchestral instruments, composers of orchestral music, the basics of conducting and composing, and much more. Multiple scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of music as an essential part of the educational process. Through SFSKids, the San Francisco Symphony provides an accessible resource for children, families, and teachers to learn about and build familiarity with orchestral music.”

 

ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY’S COMMITMENT TO MUSIC EDUCATION

Music education has been a part of the SFS’ mission since its founding in 1911. The Orchestra’s second performance in 1911 was a concert for children, and its commitment to lifelong learning continues today with a variety of programs designed for all age groups, including: Adventures in Music, the longest running and most comprehensive music education program of its kind among American Orchestras in public schools reaching every child in grades 1-5 in the San Francisco Unified School District; Music for Families, concerts for parents and children; the internationally renowned San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Instrument Training and Support program for middle and high school music students, and Community of Music Makers workshops for adult amateur singers and instrumentalists.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the SFS launched their Keeping Score PBS television series and multimedia project in 2006, to make classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds. The project, an unprecedented undertaking among orchestras, is anchored by eight composer documentaries, hosted by Tilson Thomas, and eight live concert films, now available on DVD and Blu-ray, and includes www.keepingscore.org, an innovative website to explore and learn about music; a national radio series; and an education program for K-12 schools to further teaching through the arts by integrating classical music into core subjects.

To date, more than six million people have seen the Keeping Score television series, and the radio series has been broadcast on more than 400 stations nationally. Praising the SFS’s education programs, the Wall Street Journal states, “The San Francisco Symphony serves as the industry standard,” and The New York Times refers to the SFS as “a music education powerhouse.”

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I Will Recommend Casio Electronic Piano For Any Parent Looking To Buy A Piano For Their Child

We purchased Casio Celviano Piano when our daughter wanted to get a piano with pedals. We went to the nearest Guitar Center and asked the experts there to help us with the piano purchase. The sales person was not only very knowledgeable but also very talented, he played a few short songs on the Casio Celviano and Yamaha pianos.

He suggested the Casio Celviano over Yamaha and we also liked the price, this was a couple of hundred dollars lesser but pretty much the same quality in every other way, the wood finishing, good sound and recording ability, tempo settings, 8 different instruments etc, the standard stuff on this line of pianos.

Here is how it looks with the complete setup, bench was included in our purchase which is a nice free add-on that you wouldn’t have to worry about purchasing separately. The price we paid was roughly around $1070.oo but zzSounds.com is offering a good discount on the piano.

Good luck with your purchase, you can’t go wrong with Casio.

 

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Good Advice For Music Students

A few days ago I created a cartoon calling out some important lessons that I learned about music practice.

7 Comical Tips For Better Music Practice

Today, I came across a nice article by a Music College professor (University of North Carolina, Wilmington) who happens to be a recent grad student from a top music school as well.

I am not a teacher, heck, I cannot even say that I am a music student, I hardly study music now a days but I was pleasantly surprised to see how much my cartoon resonated with the basics of pursuing music as written by this professor.

You can check the article here on Medium by Michael D’Angelo

https://medium.com/lessons-learned/dfdaf4b53429

Highlights of his article are listed here for your quick reference.

  • Your professional career starts as soon as you step foot on campus.
  • Be prepared.
  • Be reliable.
  • Practice your ass off.
  • Record yourself often.
  • Listen.
  • Don’t get discouraged.
  • Save everything.
  • Perform as much as possible.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Last but certainly not least, have fun.
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Music Student Buzz – Inspiration From Singer And Composer T.V. Hari Haran

“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.” –Michelangelo Buonarroti

You have got to be out of your mind to quit a well-paying job to follow your heart. It’s not for the faint of heart. T.V. Hari Haran left the corporate world after a brief stint of 3 years to compose, sing and spread the joy of music to as many people in the world.

He has definitely accomplished this goal. Many thousands of listeners from around the world enjoy his beautiful compositions and his soul stirring singing. Hari Haran has travelled extensively in India and abroad to spread the joy of meditative music.

tvhariharan1

For more of T.V. Hari Haran’s music visit his page on raagabox!

Bob Dylan used to spend 100 hours or more every week in the bus touring the country, performing back to back with little or no rest in between. He is what he is because he did the things that many don’t want to do. As Les Brown puts it “People who are Hungry are willing to do the things today that others won’t do in order to have the things tomorrow that others won’t have”.

 

Bob Dylan Source: Esquire

What we can learn from Hari Haran’s story is his dedication and love for music and his noble goal to spread the joy of good meditative music to the world. Dedication and love for something, we call this passion and a Big Hairy Audacious Goal,  Jim Collins who is the the author of Good to Great, calls B-HAGs, are 2 critical components of any ambitious person who wants to achieve their dreams.

Whatever your goal is, you are probably thinking too small.

Do you have B-HAGs for this year? how about for your life? are they big enough? are they hairy and audacious? Whatever your goals may be as a music student, it may be that you want to practice 1000 hours of music this year, it may be that you will meet 100 accomplished musicians and music directors and composers this year, it may be that you will do whatever it takes to win a Grammy  within the next 5 years.

Bob Dylan, T.V. Hari Haran and all the great artists we know of  started with that one song and so can you!  Just go for it!

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I Cheated On My Love For 15 Years, I Was Blind But Now I See

One beautiful evening in 1982, I broke my leg and found my love. I fell in love with art when I fractured my left leg while playing a stupid game in the middle of the street while a bicycle came rolling downhill and hit me, tangling my leg in the rear wheel. There couldn’t have been a better accident in my life than this, it gave me an opportunity to discover my love, Art.

I was on the bed, couldn’t walk and didn’t have TV, didn’t like Radio or Reading. The only thing that kept me active and excited was drawing. I drew many things, filling many sketchbooks for 3 months. To my utter dismay some of my uncles and aunts made fun of my drawings. It hurt that my own family ridiculed my art. Luckily, and I really don’t know why, I was obsessed and I kept drawing!

I won many accolades in town-wide inter-school, inter-collegiate competitions to intramural competitions. I have been drawing for over 3 decades now and I usually get lost in drawing once I start. Growing up I used to spend countless number of hours, many times 4 to 5 hours at a stretch without getting up from the chair, trying to perfect that one fine curve on the eye ball or that one tiny eye lash on the drawing I was doing of a beautiful lass!

hitler-why copypicasafied-eye

Do you have this terrible nagging feeling in the back of your mind as you part ways with your love. Unfortunately, like the parting of ways in human relationships, getting distracted and moving away from my love for art was gradual and almost invisible. That’s the problem, just as in life. One small deviation here and another there repeated daily is all it takes to see ourselves miles away from the love of our lives.

After college, I started neglecting my love and only sat down to draw once in a while. Life, work and other interesting things caught me off guard and let me astray. I lost connection with my love. I feel that I’ve cheated on her for too long. I have had it, I can’t let life and work take my love away.

A few months ago, I decided to draw everyday. It may be a comic, it may be portrait or it may be just a few random scribbles, I want to win her heart back and I will do anything it takes. Many drawings came to me, some days are better than others. There have been days when I went back to my old habits. I know my love is not in my reach yet, I know it will take more effort and devotion from me. I know I have failed many times even after deciding to draw everyday.

I suck at keeping my promise to my love, there are days I hate myself for letting my love down. However, in the depths of my heart I do firmly believe that I will win her back, no matter what. My daily routine needs to be more consistent but I am getting better.

SONY DSC

So, here is the $priceless question? Are you cheating on your love? Do you have the guts to dare to win her heart back no matter what it takes. If you know that you are cheating on your love, you are 1/2 the way there. Sad part is, many of us are so caught up in the mechanics of daily living and our responsibilities that we don’t realize that we’re straying away from our love. One step a day away from her is all it takes and before you know it you are miles and miles away.

It takes time to take those steps back and retreat, it’s painful, it cannot happen overnight, don’t look for shortcuts, the only way to win her back is to do the work, make the sincere effort, be willing to put aside your distractions and start loving intensely, again.

It’s not easy but it’s possible to win your love back. Good luck, see you at the reunion celebrations!

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7 Comical Tips For Better Running

Running is the easiest form of exercise and is also quite fun right from the start. With earphones plugged in, listening to good music or podcast you love, there is nothing else one needs to exercise but just simply to get their butt of the couch and start running.

As you get past the inertia and move into running regularly, I found the following to be very handy.

7 Comical Tips For Better Running

  • 1. Don’t ever run without stretching for at least 5 minutes before and 5 minutes after the run. Stretching gives the much needed mini-excercise to our muscles and ligaments that help us have a more enjoyable run. If your body starts to pain half-way through the run, I can bet you that is because of inadequate stretching. I have run 2 marathons a few other half-marathon and 10k runs and not once did i have to stop running because of muscle cramps or such things as I always make sure that I stretch for 20 minutes before any such long runs and I stretch for another 10 to 20 minutes after the run is complete.
  • 2. Carry a small water bottle with you or at least a couple of dollars on you - In case you don’t like carrying anything, those 2 dollars can save your life, hop into a corner store and buy a bottle of water to quench your thirst and properly nourish yourself.
  • 3. Don’t carry wallets, keys etc when running - they are such a pain and distraction when running, if you absolutely must carry them look for a fuel belt kind of gadget that you can put around your waist and carry stuff in it
  • 4. If you are running long, don’t look or think too far ahead - simply put one foot in front of the other and keep on. Thinking of how much more to run or looking at the giant uphill that’s coming up in a few feet will not only hurt your psyche but also brings in negative energy, you don’t need that. If anything, all you need is positive energy and the fact that you’re putting one foot in front of the other and making progress towards the finish line.
  • 5. Try to develop a rhythm - rhythm is crucial for runners. It should be your own rhythm, a speed at which you feel comfortable but not too comfortable, challenged but not too challenged.
  • 6. Set a goal for the run - Our mind is a goal seeker. So set a goal before you start the run, it may be to finish the entire loop around your neighborhood, it may be to go all the way to the town library and back or it may be to run for 30 minutes non-stop. Whatever may be the goal, it’s just easier to run with a goal in mind.
  • 7. Enjoy it. If you don’t find a way to enjoy the run, you won’t do it for long, so find a way to enjoy it. I personally just enjoy putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward but I also think up a lot of ideas that I could use in my business or life while running.  Whatever works for you, do it.
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Music Student Buzz – 7 Comical Tips For Better Music Practice

Music student must practice daily, no exceptions, that’s the end of this story. If you disagree you can stop reading  and go back to whatever you were doing. As Jascha Heifetz says “If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.”

Practicing daily without missing a beat is hard, it’s a habit that must be nurtured and encouraged from day 1. We are tempted to put out what must be practiced today until tomorrow or the weekend.

7 Comical Tips For Better Music Practice

Daily routine is crucial for any aspiring music student who wants to reach their peak performance. As in mastering any skill, in the beginning music practice may be boring. It requires a lot more brain power, thinking, memorizing etc unlike some other daily routines such as watching TV or reading a book.

Once we get past the initial hump we will start to enjoy the practice, it’s like exercising, your day will not feel complete unless you practice music. As a bonus, with music, unlike other not so creative endeavors, one starts to enjoy themselves and it only gets better day by day.

What is easy at first gets monotonous quickly and doesn’t help us grow. What is hard at first but gets easier later is challenging and after a while very rewarding.

Here are 7 tips that I have tried, they work but we need to do them daily and with faith.

Tip 1 – Practice sitting in the same place and at the same time daily
Tip 2 - Practice with all your heart, it’s serious stuff – practicing half is fine but practicing half-assed is not!
Tip 3 - Don’t waste time in setting up things like nice cushion to sit on, polishing your violin strings, cleaning the piano keys etc before practice, just jump in as quickly as possible and stay with it for as long as possible
Tip 4 - Record your practice, listen to it and you will be surprised how much room there is for improvement
Tip 5 - Don’t get distracted with phones, eating etc
Tip 6 - Keep a specific target for each practice e.g. I will master this one line
Tip 7 - Practice daily, no exceptions!

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Music Student Buzz – Feeling Stuck In Your Musical Journey?

We all have music within us, don’t we? Many of us sing when we are by ourselves. We tried our hand at an instrument, be it the keyboard or the flute or the guitar. If given a chance we would all love to perform for hundreds of thousands of fans thronging the stage to get a closer glimpse of our hairdo. Why then most of us get stuck half way through our musical journey. The reason is quite simply because of Resistance.

hampsterinawheel

Every artist must face this wild creature called “Resistance” that is here to kill our creativity and mercilessly stop us from reaching our full potential. Resistance constantly buzzes in our mind, “Who do you think you are? Mozart? Thyagaraja?”, “You will never get good at this music thing, it’s damn hard and you don’t have it within you!”, “You suck at music”, “You are the worst music student I ever saw, you have no clue of tempo, pitch and yet you think you are somebody, how dare you?”

These are some of the milder questions that “Resistance” asks you, every time you sit down to practice. Every time you sit down to perform in front of your family or friends. Every time you think of doing that big stage performance some day!

The best reaction to this mental monster that Steven Pressfield calls “Resistance” is getting up everyday knowing that Resistance is here to destroy my creativity and ability to grow but I will go ahead and practice anyway. I will go ahead and sing in front of my friends anyway. I will go ahead and dream big anyway. The only thing that the Resistance in our minds is scared of is our ability to ignore it and do the work that is necessary.

The more we put in, the more progress we make, the weaker this Resistance becomes. It will never ever completely go away but it will be overcome through our massive actions that turn the flywheel an inch at a time until the momentum in the flywheel gets stronger and stronger and then it cannot be stopped. It’s called the escape velocity, the critical momentum.

Most of us give-in way too early, some of us put in the effort and keep turing the flywheel but then give up just before it reaches the escape velocity and a rare few of us reach the escape velocity and accomplish our dreams with do it until attitude….as Les Brown says “It’s not over until I win”.

Remember, it’s not over until you sing. It’s not over until you play the music that you want to hear. Until then……keep on the Until course.

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