More on Woodshedding & Improving

If you are a Maker Of Things, any variety of things, you should read Derek Sivers’ excellent article 6 Things I Wish I Knew the Day I Started Berklee from a talk he gave to incoming first-year students at Berklee College of Music in 2008. It doesn’t matter if you’re a musician; this is wonderful, concise advice on improving and doing great work.

You’re surrounded by distractions. You’re surrounded by cool tempting people, hanging out casually, telling you to relax. But the casual ones end up having casual talent and merely casual lives.

Casual Talent = Wasted Talent

Stay offline. Shut off your computer. Stay in the shed. When you emerge in a few years, you can ask someone what you missed, and you’ll find it can be summed up in a few minutes. The rest was noise you’ll be proud you avoided.

The entire article is a soundbite-editor’s dream. He continues:

Do not accept their speed limit. Blow away expectations.


I decided to squeeze every bit of knowledge out of [Berklee]. Nobody was going to do it for me. Do not expect the teachers to teach you.

They will present some information to you, but it is entirely 100% up to you to either make the most of it, or waste your time here, and go home and get a normal dumb job.

I am daily thankful that I don’t have a “normal dumb job” (though I’d add that the “normal” and “dumb” parts of that equation are entirely subjective—I hated doing construction growing up, but for my Father, it was a dream job. Same job, different motivations and people.) but I don’t want to rest in it. 

I want to get busy getting better.