The Thursday Thesis - 28/7/2016
Why “Mainstream” Really Means “Average”
Adopting the same approach as everyone else seems like a safe strategy – after all, if so many people are doing it, they can’t all be wrong, can they?
There’s safety in numbers, isn’t there?
I have a problem with doing what everyone else does. When I ask people if they are succeeding at what they want to do, and if are they happy doing what they do, they have to stop and think.
Imagine that – you have to stop and think about whether your life is going the way you want, and run a quick mental checklist to be able to say if you’re happy or not.
The sad truth is that most people don’t have a plan for their lives that looks further than the next paycheque or the next holiday from work.
If you have no plan, how can you know if you are succeeding or not?
The majority of people coast along, going with the flow of everything that is happening around them, doing what everyone else is doing, fitting-in and being one of the crowd. You can see them any day, in any town.
In the middle of The Mainstream, people follow what’s in front of them. The people in front of them are following the people in front of them...
So it goes: on and on.
In The Mainstream, the followers are following the followers, who are – in turn – following other followers.
Where are the Leaders?
The Leaders are nowhere to be seen in The Mainstream - but why not?
It turns out that the Leaders are exploring the tributaries and rapids, the cascades and eddies overlooked by those in The Mainstream who are busy following the followers in front of them.
Leaders are at the edges, away from The Mainstream. They are digging wells, building towers, chasing dreams.
Leaders know that – even if they excel in The Mainstream – they can only achieve more or less what anyone else in The Mainstream can achieve: mediocrity.
But excellence in mediocrity holds no appeal to Leaders. Those who Lead are willing to make a new way, to carve out a new course, to swim against the flow of The Mediocre Mainstream, to believe in their own dreams – rather than to follow a follower of someone else’s dreams.
Sadly, excelling at following someone else’s dream is what The Mainstream does.
But The Future belongs to the Mavericks: to the oddballs and eccentrics who believe in themselves and their own dreams: those weirdoes and fruitcakes who believe in themselves, and who dare to break the rules that discourage “normal” people.
It is often said that "progress depends upon the unreasonable man".
Whilst “Normal” people drown in the undertow of The Mainstream, the unreasonable man or woman is off chasing their own dreams.
The moment You swim for the banks of The Mainstream, Your life changes: everything changes. The view from the far bank is different to that from The Mainstream. Escape The Mainstream, and where you go next is up to you.
It is your choice to stay drowning in the anonymity of The Mainstream’s comfortable multitude, but the best you can expect to be is average.
The edges are where the good stuff happens, but it’s where almost nobody is looking.
Are you ready to strike out for the edge, yet?
After nearly twenty years of being in The Mainstream of mediocre guitar players (frustrated, disheartened, clumsy, slow, confused, etc. Etc. Etc.) I got frustrated enough – and angry enough – to strike out and swim for a different shore.
And as soon as I’d committed to thinking differently about what I really wanted - to play smoothly, quickly, and to have a system that let me understand what I was doing – things began to change. So, day for the last 17 years I’ve been guiding players and beginners away from the deadly current and treacherous tides of The Mainstream.
As I teach, I learn new lessons, and every new lesson influences and improves the way I teach.
What I learnt, and what I teach, isn’t Mainstream – it’s my way, based on what I would have wanted to know, right on Day One.
And when you take action and begin to think differently about what you want, things will begin to change for you, too.
So let me ask you this question:
If a pudding like me can do it, what are you waiting for?
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