The 2 Keys to Success: Optimism and Imperfect Action

My first two students are graduating this year. Makes me feel pretty old, but that is beside the point. These two gentlemen have been in my studio for 6 years. I am so proud of their accomplishments! Between them, they've made top chairs at local, regional and state competitions, performed in numerous solo recitals, and have led their respective bands to higher accomplishments because of their high level talent. They are aiming for scholarships at some prestigious schools in this part of the country.

I remember their first few lessons; I knew then that these two students had the ability to be top ranked musicians. They were willing to try any of my teaching methods. Let me tell you, they are not of the traditional sort. Meditation. Mental practicing. Playing music backward. Trial and error. Lots of coaching. Teaching me. I could go on, but I won't bore you.

I would like to point out to you their 2 keys to success today. Optimism and imperfect action.

Optimism is an internal instinct of hope. Without hope, growth is unlikely to occur in any part of your life. These two students have hope, and lots of it. They may not always know exactly what they are doing, or how they are doing it, but they understand that the end is in sight. My first impression of these guys 6 years ago was that they were optimistic – willing to hear new ideas for the betterment of their skills. Hope. In return, I was able to foster that hope inside them, increasing their likelihood for success.

Optimism is also a willingness to reach outside of the box. An internal desire to know more, to experience more, to expect more. Without reaching for new information, these students would still be playing at a 1st year level. How fun would that be? NOT! Their willingness to open up to possibility is what catapulted them to the top of their class. My studio is know for having students who succeed – because I foster this optimism in every student. They have a great track record for not only succeeding, but being top contenders at local, regional and state competitions. Without the stressful competitive attitude. It's all about the optimism.

This brings me to the second success point: imperfect action. The body has a natural ability to correct and heal itself. In health. In mind. In spirit. In music, too. If I have a bone that is out of place, my body will immediately react by tensing up the muscles around it to brace for strength until the bone heals, right? If I teach a student what a good tone is, but not how to do it, their body will naturally adapt itself to match the good tone.

The HOW to get good tone takes a great deal of imperfect action. Trial and error. Cause and effect. Experimenting. My long term goal of teaching music is to teach each of my students how to teach themselves so they will not be dependent on a teacher or coach for musical excellence. The key is to teach a certain tolerance level for imperfect playing. This goes hand in hand with optimism. Teaching them to have hope and be open to new experiences, while trying new things that don't work or almost work until they find the thing that does work. Then, voila! Success is born.

I use these same skills – optimism and imperfect action – in my coaching practice. Find hope. Do whatever it takes to foster optimism. Try new things. Take imperfect action until the end result is obtained. Simple, right? Not exactly. There were some struggles in the middle, of course. The optimism is what took them through the tough experiences to the success point.

I have great hope and optimism for the future of these two gentlemen. I know they have the skills to continue to teach themselves, as well as the basic life skills for a successful life in and out of music. Optimism. Imperfect Action.

Author's Bio: 

Sybil R Smith is a life coach and expressive arts therapist. She has a wide range of expertise, including music therapy, hospice, child psychotherapy, EMDR, and a M.A. degree in marriage and family therapy. She has helped clients deal with a range of issues including anxiety and panic disorders, life transitions, depression, and grief. Her mission is to show people how to live empowered lives so they can move past therapy and into forward motion. Sybil R Smith uses her training as a musician and performer to present creative ways to help move people through anxiety, depression, and grief to create smooth and joy-filled transitions. You can sign up for her thought-provoking EZine and meet her at