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Spending Time in the Woodshed

When I was 17 years old, I started a rock-n-roll band. I was a singer, and singers need other players. My brother played bass, and our friend played drums. We needed a guitar player, and there were plenty around.

You didn’t know the kids that played guitar. You never saw them. They were like ghosts, really. They fell in love with the guitar, and then they disappeared into their bedrooms. They spent every waking moment, listening to their heroes and learning to play their songs. They took lessons to speed up the process. And after a couple years, they emerged from their bedrooms as guitarists—and some of them emerged as shredders. For the most part, your band was never going to be better than your guitarist or your singer.

This process is known as woodshedding. It’s doing the lonely work of learning your craft, putting in the hours, becoming adept, and eventually, mastery.

Woodshedding doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Hell, mastery doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves in an age that prefers instant gratification, the putting on of appearances, and dabbling. Why do the work when there are so many promises of results without having to do the work.

This isn’t a post about sales, leadership, or coaching. It’s a post about success. The one variable of success that gets far too little attention is mastery. What looks like raw talent isn’t often what it appears to be.

You never see the time the successful person spent studying their craft. You never see the time they spent being coached by masters. You don’t get to see them trying something, failing, and trying again, perfecting their craft. You never get to witness the critiques they received when something isn’t working and requires dramatic improvement. You don’t see the early mornings or the late nights.

The success that you see was built in the woodshed long before you were aware of the person who has mastered their craft. How much time are you spending woodshedding?


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