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Human GPS

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  • February 8, 2013
  • Mark Schulman

I’ve researched how people define GPS as it relates to the human condition, and I think Dr. Jim Samuels’ ( philosophy is the simplest and most effective. His formula: Goal, problem, solution. We set goals, and then solve problems that arise as a result of these goals. If you’re thirsty, you get a glass of water. It’s actually quite sophisticated, but you handle it unconsciously.

Now, most of us, at one point or another, will create a negative goal. What’s that mean? I did it during the Bad English audition. I needed to focus on rock solid, steady meter, and my “Don’t rush, Mark…don’t rush” moved me in the wrong direction. That brain is a mindful child and tends to cooperate with what we emphasize, especially when you’re under duress or your sensibilities are impeded by anxiety. In those moments, a negative goal will never give you the clarity to be capable.

In this situation, your true goal is obscured. Without clarity, you end up solving the wrong problems and finding solutions that actually distract you from what you really want.

Sometimes, people spend their time solving problems, which can obscure their goals and create busy work. Stop trying to solve problems, and figure out the path to your goals.  Does that involve problem solving? Yes. But always ask yourself if the task at hand or the problem you encounter is leading you back to your goal. If it doesn’t, you need to stop doing or solving it.

In defining your goals it is useful to know in what stages these goals occur.  By defining short, mid and long-term goals, you are not only clarifying your path, you are building confidence as you accomplish each goal.  Every time you accomplish a goal that you set, not matter how big or small, you are creating a win for yourself.  As you accumulate more wins, your confidence grows.  The ratio of confidence vs. performance fear tips more and more in your favor.

You are also solidifying your integrity.  Werner Erhard said, “By keeping your word we mean doing what you said you would do and by the time you said you would do it.”

There is so much power in taking action, specifically the exact action you agree to do.  This agreement can be with yourself or others.  Remember that that end goal here really isn’t to reduce your anxiety but to build confidence.  By keeping your eye on the goal, you will break through the problems or barriers.

An example of a short-term goal for me was picking a tempo or tempo range per daily practice session and getting to the point where I could clap along with a metronome for a minute and not hear the metronome click.  This meant that I would need to get so synchronized with the metronome that my clapping and that metronome beep were one tone- like my clap was cancelling out the sound of the metronome.  It required stopping and starting many times until I go in the zone of complete concentration.  Depending on my concentration and daily skill set, this could take ten minutes, three hours or more.  As you see, I clocked many hours!

I got to the point of being able to cancel out the metronome or ‘bury the click’ for a minute at tempo ranges from 40-220 beats per minute.  An example of my mid-term goal was being able to play my drum set for a minute to the same tempo range, moving in and out of basic beats, fills, style changes and transitions- cancelling that click out the entire time.  The industry term for metronome, is ‘click.’

The long-term goal was to master playing with the click.  I can now play all tempos, all styles, moving in and out of fills and transitions and bury that click for an entire song.  I can do this in any situation- the recording studio, live shows, seminars or anywhere, in front of anyone at anytime.  I have also gotten to the point where I can play behind the click and ahead of the click.  This has come in handy when the click is slightly out of sync from the rest of the recorded track- which happens in the recording studio when a producer wants me to play to a track where the click is a bit delayed. In live rehearsals with Pink as an example, we often receive tracks from the record and when we play with them for the first few times, the clicks are slightly ahead or behind the music.  I’m ready; I can shift the placement of my drumming to accommodate this.

♫ Action Step: GPS Exercise ♪
1.    Write down something you want.
2.    List the problems standing between you and achieving your goal.
3.    Focus on each problem until you come up with a solution that moves you closer to   fulfilling that goal.
4.    What is the short term or daily goal?
5.    What is the mid term or weekly to monthly goal?
6.    What is the long term or life goal?

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