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What the film Whiplash can teach us about determination


 

If you've not seen Whiplash, the intense, dizzying drama by Damien Chazelle, drop everything you're doing right now and give it a watch. Especially if you're demotivated and trying to get on the wagon again after December. 

We'll keep this a spoiler-free zone, but the story charts the journey of Andrew, a promising young drummer at one of the most prestigious music schools in America. His teacher, Fletcher - a brutal perfectionist - regales the story of Jo Jones and Charlie Parker. A simple mistake made by Parker resulted in Jones throwing a cymbal at his head, almost decapitating him. This act provoked Parker to dive into a period of intense, regiment-like practice that transformed him into one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. 

You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail. - Charlie Parker

Jo Jones could easily have said, 'It's okay, you did good. You're a good player.' And Parker wouldn't nearly have been killed, nor would his feelings have been hurt. But he also wouldn't have become the all-time great that he was. As Fletcher tells Andrew in Whiplash: “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.”

This can resonate whatever your passions are. You think that last match went okay? Remember the cymbal. Having an easy-going training session? Remember what it took Charlie Parker to reach greatness. Made an unforced error? Remember the lengths Andrew goes to in order to fulfil his dream.

The journey to becoming a champion is never easy. No-one got to the top of their game by cruising. The key is to know that there will be pain, blood, sweat and tears; the key is to embrace those things, and push yourself wholeheartedly past them to the next level. The champions' level.