Too many times in life we focus on being the best at something. We see the people who inspire us or the people we consider successful and think, “I want to be that person someday and from this moment forward I will do everything I can to make it happen.” There’s just one thing… Sometimes we forget the difficult journey traveled by those people that claim that position in our minds. The people we look up to weren’t always the best. In fact, they worked hard to be the WORST. To be the worst at something rarely ever receives any merit in our society but what if I said to be the best, you have to continually make sure you are the worst? Confused? Let me explain.
In the world of music performance, top jazz musicians are seen as masters of music theory, skillfully moving in and out of different timings and keys, creating an illusion of synchrony without sounding foreign to the ear. Like the banks of a river which constrain the chaotic flow of water along a path, jazz uses mathematical rigidity to guide improvisational performances of notes and chords. To continue growing in their education, jazz students must combine the careful study of sheet music from past musicians along with learning how to improvise over any song structure. In fact, it is similar to learning a second language where the semantics are studied to grasp the structure of sentences then the words are spoken in the presence of other speakers to form conversational ability. For a jazz student to develop the conversational aspect of music, he or she must continue to surround themselves with other speakers of this improvisational language.
From very early on, these musicians began “studying under” more experienced teachers who have become well versed in the musical language. The student starts their education by being the “worst” one in the presence of other more experienced students. As time goes on, the student grows and develops to the point that she becomes the best one in her class. Now, the student has a choice to make. She can either let the pride of her “best” label keep her on the same stage while her peers continue to develop, or she can surround herself by a new group of musicians where her abilities are the worst in the room. The first one is attractive, but the second one continues the journey. The second choice is hard but evolution leaves no room for sulking. As time goes on, she becomes the best on that stage. Her next step? You guessed it. Move on to the next group of musicians where she becomes the worst.. again. It is this continual cycle that creates a flourishing environment for our skills and talents. We should all be on a journey of becoming the best version of ourselves we can possibly be.
Always strive to be the worst.
Before you know it, you will be the best.