Robin Sharma on Excellence Over Time

Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!

“Daily ripples of excellence over time become a tsunami of success.”

Robin S. Sharma

What is excellence? How may we become excellent in our practice?

In the moment, excellence doesn’t always feel like anything special. We may not even notice it. This is because excellence is born of awareness and attention.

We release other thoughts and the dramas of life. We put our attention on the fine details of our work. We slow down enough to play what and how we intend.

Eckhart Tolle has said, “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” And this also holds true in our guitar practice.

One way to exercise awareness in practice is to actively listen to the sounds of our playing. Not only the imagined perfection in our “mind’s ear,” but every little sound that comes from the guitar.

Awareness in practice means we hear every scrape, buzz and bump. We hear the tone quality. We hear the volume of each note and its relationship to the previous notes. We feel our fingers and muscles. Our thoughts stay on the current task.

Then, we seek to match these sounds and feelings with our imagined version of perfection. We usually know what we want to hear and feel. And in practice we hold these two renditions side by side, honing reality to match our mental interpretation of “right.”

Excellence in practice means we take care. We spend the extra minute shining light into the murky depths of a problem. We seek solutions.

The more aware we are, the more “wrong” we may become aware of. But this shouldn’t dishearten us, and instead can encourage us. Awareness itself is a long-term strategy that leads to better playing and more daily enjoyment.

As we accept the gap between where we are and where we want to be, we can release the end goal and focus on the work at hand. We can buttress the weak spots and hone the strong. We can practice for its own sake – a lifelong puzzle with which we tinker and toil, happily and pleasantly, like tending a garden or sailing a boat.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

Hi Allen, I am a Dutch guy who plays classical guitar (solo and together with a flute player). Unfortunately I have been suffering from focal dystonia since begin 2016. Of course I tried physical therapy which didn't help… But I tried some of your [technique] lessons (I had teachers before but I was never taught your techniques) and to my big surprise the nasty feeling in the back of my right hand which pulls my index finger upward was gone! So now I practice your lessons. Anyway, I am very happy to have found you on the internet. Thanks very much!


~ Arnoud Reinders

-Arnoud Reinders

Hi Allen, just wanted to provide some feedback. Since I've started doing the exercises [in The Woodshed program] my guitar is sounding a lot better, with fuller sound, less effort. Its as if I bought a new guitar or got a new pair of hands (or both). Amazing my friend. Thank you!


~ Nusret Aydemir

-Nusret Aydemir

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