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Cheering Them On

by Omar on December 5, 2009

in Editorials

In all different types of industries, awards are presented to the ones who excel in their field.  ‘Salesman of the Year’, ‘Woman of the Year’, Pulitzer Prize winner, Grammy award winner, “and the Oscar goes to”, etc.  How do you feel, personally, when you see these people (or hear them) accept their awards?

Unfortunately, some people feel very jealous of these achievers.  Some would call them overachievers.  Some will scowl and fret, espousing on all of the dirty things these people had to do to get to where they are, to get the success they are being acknowledged for.  Others will say that these did not really work hard to obtain these awards.  ‘It’s all about knowing the right people’, or ‘they’re so lucky’, or, ‘they were in the right place at the right time’, etc.

In many cases, these reactions are a commentary on the critics’ personal life.  They may not have for themselves discovered what they truly like, and pursue it.  Or they know what they like, but they succumb to fear of the unknown and never truly take the necessary steps to accomplish their dreams.  They become comfortable in the daily routine because it gets them by (barely), secretly yearning, though, for the ‘what if’.  Maybe at times they start putting in that little extra effort towards their dreams, but when they realize how much hard work it really takes, and when they see they’re not getting the ‘lucky breaks’, they stop way too short.  As time goes on, as they never get acknowledged for the things they do, because they don’t do them whole-heartedly, they become more and more bitter over time at the successes of others.

This reminds of a few lines from one of my favorite songs by Rush, “Losing It”:

Some are born to move the world -
To live their fantasies
But most of us just dream about
The things we'd like to be

Sadder still to watch it die
Than never to have known it
For you - the blind who once could see -
The bell tolls for thee...

Tragic, hauntingly beautiful words.  Some in the world, in whatever field they’ve chosen, have excelled.  Regardless if it’s a famous field (Hollywood, for example) or not (mechanical engineering, for example), these have either received awards in recognition for their achievements, or have affected those surrounding them in such a way that they enjoy an internal satisfaction that drives them to continue to excel, not to rest on their laurels.

Yet others never pursue what interests them.  Yes, they may be content with what they’re doing, but not fully satisfied.  And it doesn’t necessarily mean being rich and famous, no.  It means that they’re not happy with their course of life, and instead of doing everything possible to achieve their dreams, they not only abandon them, but criticize those who do achieve theirs.  They make excuses for why the successful are, and why they are not.  ‘The bell tolls for thee’ indeed!

I have to admit that at one time, I was like that.  I would be jealous of those who seemingly attracted success, while I seemingly was not.  Those in my field would get recognition for their hard work, while I did not.  This gets very tiring after a while, and in the end, totally counterproductive.  There is something else that can be done with all that negative energy.

Years ago, my wife and I decided that there would be two specific events in the year that we would watch together:  the Super Bowl (for me), and the Academy Awards (for her).  We both get to see the shows we like, no fussing, and with our favorite person!  After a while, not only watching those events, but others where high achievers were rewarded, I started to come around regarding the rewarded.  I started to realize (even though I knew it already) that these people work extremely hard to reach that level of professionalism and success.  Every Super Bowl winning team deserved to win, and deserved all the accolades that came with winning.  You’d be especially proud if the underdog won, like when the New England Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, or when the New York Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

The above examples can be more easily measured, because there’s a winner, and a loser.  In the case of the Oscars, the results may be more subjective.  Who knows all of the criteria that goes into selecting the winner of “Best Actor in a Leading Role” or “Best Actress in a Supporting Role”?  Many times there’s controversy regarding the winner.  In any case, there is no question that for all of the nominees, the common denominator was hard work. Yes, some of these actors make millions of dollars.  But the market will pay it, so if the money’s there, guess who gets the lion’s share?  Those who work the hardest, who sacrifice the most.  There’s no question that there is some luck involved, that at times it’s who you know, not what you know.  And yes, many, if not most, of these actors and actresses were ‘at the right place at the right time’ to be discovered.  But in every case, without exception, again, what’s common with all these cases is hard work.

So now I find myself happy for those who achieve excellence in their chosen field.  I certainly am not jealous anymore.  Now when I watch the award shows, I find myself cheering my favorites on, hoping they win.  I like watching the acceptance speeches, and I find myself congratulating them (from afar, of course! 🙂 ).  Now I channel the previous negative energy to inspire me to excel in everything that I do.

That doesn’t mean I’m always excelling!  I get frustrated many times, especially with drumming.  As much as I love the drums, and everything about them, I find myself at times wanting to throw the sticks through the walls.  Some do have a lot more ability than others, and I applaud them.  But me – I have to practice a lot to achieve any level of satisfaction in my playing!  And I don’t practice nearly as much as I should!  Whoa, double whammy there.

I’m not saying, though, that I’m eternally mad at those better than me.  If that were the case, I’d be eternally mad because there would always be someone better than me!  Now I cheer them all on, and I watch in awe as I also try to glean what I can from them, so when I’m back behind the kit, I can make it more exciting for myself.  I call that ‘exquisite torture’.  I may never be as good as the drummers I admire, but I’ll sure have fun watching and listening!  It will only make me better.

Year after year, magazines like Drum! and Modern Drummer have awards in various categories for drummers that have achieved a high level of proficiency in their craft.  I admire these drummers’ dedication to the instrument I love most, and I thank them for inspiring me to play better, learn more, and for unselfishly showing us their secrets.  I know I’ll never play like those whose skills I admire the most:  Neil Peart, Steve Smith, Thomas Lang, and the like – but that’s not the point!  The point is learning from those who inspire us, congratulate them for their successes, and channel that positive energy into improving our lives, whatever it is we choose to do.

So I’ll watch the award shows, the concerts, the drum clinics, the DVDs, and the like.  I’ll be cheering on my favorites along the way, and hopefully that will make me better at what I do.  Hopefully that will make you better at what you do too!

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