The Art of Ignoring Everything

Let me tell you a secret. Now this secret is extremely powerful. It may even be a little bit offensive. This secret is so good that you might not want to share it. So don’t click that “Like” button at the top of the post unless you’re absolutely sure your friends are ready for this.

Very Few Thing Really Matter

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield gives the distracting voice in the back of our heads a name. He calls it the Resistance. The Resistance is the thing that keeps us from getting things done. It’s the insecurity that causes us to look around for the best solution rather than just jumping it; it’s the fear that keeps you from doing anything.

Very few things are mission critical situations that demand immediate attention. Mostly they are distractions that take away time from getting real work done. Once your sort out what matters and what doesn’t, it’s easy to focus on the stuff that makes a difference. But sorting out what matters is not my job in this article. You’ll have to do that on your own, but here are a few thoughts to get your started.

What Matters in Practice

Because of the internet, a lot of young (in practice years) guitarists fall victim to what is termed analysis paralysis. In other words, they question whether or not they’re doing something the right way.

That’s all well and good when it comes to technique. Try to get stuff right from the start. But jumping around from practice method to practice method is not a way to improve. Consistent, persistent practice is. Stick with one thing until you see that it’s really not working.

One of my students this weekend was working on Carcassi etude number one. The arpeggio section was giving him trouble, but the previous week I assigned stop/go practice . He did it consistently for two weeks and I could tell it was working. Did I hear a perfect performance? No, but his hands were moving better and I could tell the practice method was working.

Things take time. Practicing takes time. And the only way to tell if something actual works is to give it time to do so. You have to ignore the face that your practice didn’t fix everything immediately and have faith that your practice is working.

Business & Marketing

In addition to my guitar playing activities, I work as a marketing consultant. A lot of my clients, especially those with newer sites, lose focus on what matters: building up an archive of useful, unique, engaging content. Information and reputation are the currencies of the web, and, as long as some basic technical stuff is inline, it’s fairly easy to master both.

Analytics and metrics and facebook fan numbers and twitter follower growth measurements are great as long as they don’t distract you from the real work: creating new, unique content. Too many times people get obsessed with data analysis when they should be obsessed with doing something.

The Art of Ignoring Everything

In short, the art of ignoring everything is about consistency. How long can you keep at one thing? Michael Thames knows this. His design and guitars have evolved very slowly and deliberately: he knows that you don’t master anything by jumping around.

How consistent can you be in your practice time? How good can you be at not wasting time online looking for the perfect answer?

Posted on in Classical Guitar Tips


  • Matt

    You mention Stevenf Pressfield and the “voice in the head”. That “voice” can cause us a lot of problems, many of which most of us are not even conscience of.

    Progress on the CG, or most anything else in life that requires the acquisition of a skill, is often slow and hard to notice. I make practice videos of pieces I work on for the purpose of troubleshooting. These same videos come in handy at a later time to prove or disprove a practice method.

    On occasion when I get the “voice” telling me “you are not getting better” I can check the accuracy of the “voice” by watching a video that was taken a few months earlier. Most of the time the “voice” is innacurate. If I wasn’t able to prove that it is wrong I’d probably get discouraged which would affect the quality of my current practice.

  • Floricel

    Hi Chris,

    Interesting article! Yeah, it’s really tough at times. Learning on how to avoid such “resistance”. In fact, it takes a lot of courage and persistence (like you mentioned) in order to fully understand the essence of it all.

    I would also like to add that consistency should also be accompanied with “doing things right”. Just mentioning this to put some emphasis. I remember my logic teacher in college wherein she would say that “practice makes perfect” is a fallacy. Instead it should be, “correct practice makes perfect”. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway Chris, thanks for the learning! Cheers!

  • Steve

    Excellent post. I once heard a similar philosophy applied to success in the stockmarket: those who keep moving there money around hoping for a quick win end up never making anything.

    Those who show patience, and keep there money where it is without aggressively changing strategies end up with the bigger payoffs.

    Slow and steady wins the race I guess.

    However, I suppose it’s a matter of getting the important things right in the first place.

    Keep up the good work.