“Lying to Ourselves” or “Why Bother Getting Up in the Morning?


“Lying to Ourselves” or “Why Bother Getting Up in the Morning?

You know that old joke?

A tourist in New York City stops a patrolman to ask for directions.
“How do I get to Carnegie Hall?”
The policeman answers, 
“Practice, practice, practice.”

As a Personal Success Coach, here is what I tell people and what I chose to believe for myself:
“consistent and focused effort towards your goal will get you where you want to go.”

I site a study that was done and recently written about in a book by Malcolm Gladwell titled “Outliers”, in which they correlated the accomplishments of a large number of musicians with how much they practiced and found a direct one to one relation. In other words – the musicians who practiced the most were best. The ones who practiced the least were the least accomplished. This study suggests no deviation from the mean for such variables as talent. Suggesting further that talent is an excuse that some who don’t practice use to explain why they don’t succeed like others. “They’re more talented than I am.”

Obviously this leads to the advice, if you want to get good at something, practice. If you want to be better than the average other, practice more than they do. I emphasize this over and over again in my Sleight of Mouth teaching.

And then truth and reality barge in.

Recently I was asked to create a personal hypnosis recording for a client. (I do this sort of thing occasionally.) In this particular case, the client wanted to have the background music to be piano jazz played by Errol Garner. That is an unusual choice.

Usually, when I record a hypnotic trance, I like the background trance music to be more ambient – like a big auditory pillow upon which the listener securely rests. Errol Garner is a jazz pianist from the 50s who was anything but ambient. He was a flawless stride pianist who could play anything he wanted. An amazing musician. In prepping for this recording I started listening to Errol Garner recordings and watched some videos on You Tube. I also read about him and listened to an interview.

When a person like Errol Garner shows up all those arguments about practice and focused effort go out the window. He didn’t practice. The man never took a lesson. He didn’t know how to read music. He would walk into the studio and record these amazing tracks in one take. One take!  He said it was all just feel.

Right. Try modeling THAT, you NLPers. Ain’t gonna happen.

So what do we do when faced with such obvious deviation from the norm? Quit?
NO!  Winston Churchill once said, “Never, never, never, never quit.”

What do we do?


We lie to ourselves.

OK, not lie exactly, but we look at other examples. We find a different exemplar. We think of Beethoven instead of Mozart. Oscar Peterson instead of Errol Garner. People who did practice and work hard. Mere mortals who achieved immortality by dint of their labors.

Mozart once described how a string quartet would just flash into his mind whole formed like a lightning strike and all that was left for him was to copy down the parts. Beethoven, by contrast, slaved over each and every composition, writing and rewriting and crossing out whole sections. It was hard work.

Interestingly, Beethoven was recently voted best composer of all time by a panel of music critics. He beat out Bach and several others before even Mozart made the list.

So yes, lie to yourself. Tell yourself YOU can be the next Beethoven, or Picasso, or Marie Curie, or Warren Buffett, or Jimmy Buffett, or J.K. Rowling. And then go for it. Practice. Work hard. Never ,never, never quit.

Forget about the Errol Garners of the world and become the best YOU you possibly can be. That’s something even Errol Garner couldn’t do.

About Doug O'Brien

Doug O’Brien is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, and a Certified Hypnotherapist. In 1988, while assisting at NLP and NAC training seminars with Anthony Robbins, Doug achieved the designation of Master Trainer. He now conducts numerous seminars of his own around the globe (specializing in the “Sleight of Mouth” patterns of Robert Dilts, NLP Certification Courses, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy) and helped found Columbia-Presbyterian’s Department of Complementary Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

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