How Do We Keep on Going When It Seems Like We Should Quit?
By Noa Kageyama, Ph.D.
Have you ever wanted something really badly? Even worked for it like you’ve never worked before, only to come up short?
Maybe it’s true that whatever doesn’t kill us just makes us stronger, but how are we supposed to keep on going when we fall short not once, but repeatedly?
Hope can be the difference between taking one more step and throwing in the towel. Between getting to your intended destination and falling short for good.
Because as with most things in life, the key is taking action. Not waiting until we have figured everything out in advance, but making a move in the direction of becoming that person we would like to be, even if we don’t know if we have what it takes.
The importance of stories
For many, the courage to take this first step, and the hope that ultimately fuels the journey, arise from a story. The story of an ordinary person like you or I, who, over time, grew to become the person we now know them to be.
Knowing that there will be bumps in the road, but that these bumps can and have been overcome, changes something about our willingness to deal with the adversity ourselves.
After all, we typically won’t know in advance how close we are to the finish line. Are we miles away? Or just around the corner? Appearances can be deceiving – we may be closer or further away than we think. Rather than spending too much energy trying to figure out our precise location, it may be best to do as Winston Churchill said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
One of my favorite stories of athletes overcoming adversity and refusing to give up is that of US speed skater Dan Jansen. You may remember this as one of the great stories of the 1994 winter Olympics, when he finally came through to win gold in the last race of his 4th and final Olympics, after failing to do so in three previous Olympics.
And for fans of the show Friends, Lisa Kudrow’s Vassar commencement address in which she describes the doubts and uncertainty she experienced on her path to success.
And pianist Jon Nakamatsu’s recounting of his many failures before winning the 1997 Van Cliburn competition.
The developer of this excellent app (a musician himself), has generously provided 10 copies to give away to readers of the blog. So…it’s contest time!
How to win a free copy of Metronome Plus
To enter the random drawing, leave a comment below in which you share a story of someone (preferably you, or someone you know) who persevered through adversity and self-doubt to finally reach their intended destination.
Enter as many times as you like, feel free to link to videos like the ones above if this adds to the story, and I’ll give you a bonus entry if the story you share is your own. The contest will run through midnight, Saturday October 13th, and I’ll report the winners in next week’s blog posting. I look forward to reading your stories!
The one-sentence summary
“How often in life we complete a task that was beyond the capability of the person we were when we started it.” ~Robert Brault
Performance psychologist and Juilliard alumnus & faculty member Noa Kageyama teaches musicians how to beat performance anxiety and play their best under pressure through live classes, coachings, and an online home-study course. Based in NYC, he is married to a terrific pianist, has two hilarious kids, and is a wee bit obsessed with technology and all things Apple.
After Countless Hours of Practice, Why Are Performances Still so Hit or Miss?
It’s not a talent issue. And that rush of adrenaline and emotional roller coaster you experience before performances is totally normal too.
Performing at the upper ranges of your ability under pressure is a unique skill – one that requires specific mental skills and a few tweaks in your approach to practicing. Elite athletes have been learning these techniques for decades; if nerves and self-doubt have been recurring obstacles in your performances, I’d like to help you do the same.
Click below to discover the 7 skills that are characteristic of top performers. Learn how you can develop these into strengths of your own. And begin to see tangible improvements in your playing that transfer to the stage.