“Are you what you think you are?”
I know it’s a play on the lyrics from the stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the Rock Opera, but, they make you think! In 1972, when I had just turned 13, some friends of my parents took me to see the famous stage production as it had just opened at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End.
My parents only listened to classical music, so I’d never heard any rock. Well… I quite literally didn’t know what had hit me – I was totally blown away – mind-blowing didn’t begin to describe the impact it had on me.
Are talent and self belief enough to turn dreams into reality?
It was following this emotional experience that I decided I had to become a rock star! I was convinced I had what it took. So I persuaded my parents to buy me an electric guitar (they’d have preferred a cello!). I also had a few lessons to help me on my way to stardom!
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out that way. I had imagined I could just become a guitar hero, because I wanted to – I hadn’t realised it would take study and practice – I thought “if you had what it took, you wouldn’t need to bother with boring stuff like practice”. If I had to work at it, surely that would mean I wasn’t a natural.
How can your mindset affect your goals?
This kind of thinking is what Stanford Psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck, calls “fixed mindset” thinking – some people are born with natural assets, others aren’t. This type of thinking dismisses the role of developing skills over time through practice. A fixed mindset often leads to unfulfilled goals and dreams, and ultimately disillusionment.
This is what I experienced with my rock star ambitions – I gave up the guitar at the age of 16, as I couldn’t find any evidence that I was getting better (hardly surprising as I didn’t practice). By the way, thrashing around with a few chords when the spirit takes you, doesn’t count as practice – read about “purposeful practice” in our post Leadership lessons from Brazilian football.
What do we do about our mindset?
So I buried my ambitions, along with my guitar, resigned to the fact that I hadn’t got what it took after all. We call this somebody/nobody syndrome and unfortunately , I was a nobody!
But then, after I turned 40, I thought I’d give it another go –with a bass guitar. Would it be any different this time? Find out next week in part 2: “How to become a Rock star – the right mindset”