“Great”, I thought to myself, my sarcasm in full effect.
“Another long flight. Another horrible in-flight movie.”
This time, thankfully, I was completely wrong.
“It Might Get Loud” is a documentary by David Guggenheim about three, iconic, rock guitarists: Jimmy Page (Led Zepplin), The Edge (U2), and Jack White (White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather).
In the opening scene, Jack White bustles about an old, run down farmhouse. A few cows look on and moo their curiosity. In the 1:35 that follow, White pounds two nails into a beat up plank of wood and wraps a wire between them. He then nails a cheap electronic pick up to the plank. He wedges an empty, glass Coke bottle between the wood and the wire and plugs the pick up into a stack amplifier which has waited patiently on the rickety porch.
Crackle. Hum….Karaaaaang!!! and his single-stringed Frankenstein roars to life.
White cranks out 13 seconds of loud, nasty, slide guitar riffs on his creation. And it is nothing short of awesome.
White unplugs, turns to the camera and asks, “Who says you need to buy a guitar?”
It Might Get Loud is a must see for any rock fan. But, I think it’s also a must see for anyone interested in the journey to expertise. If you liked “The Talent Code” by Dan Coyle, “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, or “Bounce” by Matthew Syed, you will absolutely LOVE this.
I won’t divulge too much about the movie here but would simply encourage you to watch and listen for the things that have moved and motivated these people. Compare and contrast the paths they’ve taken.
I will, however, share one of my favorite moments: In one brief segment, White says, “I have this sound in my head. I know I’ll never get there, but I won’t stop trying to play what I hear.”
I so totally get it.
It certainly doesn’t happen all the time, but I have definitely experienced this kind of thing on several occasions in my life. Playing high school soccer. Playing saxophone in a band traveling throughout Europe. Playing collegiate club volleyball. Writing my doctoral dissertation. Pursuing a more complete understanding of human performance.
I have felt almost possessed in these pursuits. I have experienced emotions akin to those described in Dr. Ellen Winner’s “Rage to Master”. I don’t believe my drive to become better was ever motivated by a quest to be perfect. And, it was never about money. It was always about knowing what I felt “it” could be. Sometimes “it” was a sound. Sometimes “it” was a feeling. In almost all cases, “it” was the true expression of what was in my head or in my heart. I used this, like White, as a singular source of motivation and clear-minded pursuit.
The sound in my own head is now pounding. And it desperately needs to be quieted. My current “it” involves defining the connections between international competitive analysis, “critical factors” of human performance, and the programs, policies, and resources necessary to affect those critical factors and performances. It’s all there. All of it. But, I know it is up to me to shake it free. Like most things worth doing, it’s hard. And many challenges abound. One of these is perhaps my own fear. But, I’ll write more about that in another post.
What is the sound in your head? Have you had the courage to pursue it and have you had successes (and failures) you can share? Did you hesitate to start? What got in your way? Did you eventually overcome these obstacles and succeed? How did it feel?
I’m always interested in knowing what things drive others. I’d love to hear from you.