The Drill

My brilliant drum teacher informs me that playing for 8 hours a day does not make you a better drummer. It just makes you better at playing for eight hours a day. The practical applications of this are scant. However, practicing the pesky drills for 20 minutes hurts your head but makes all the difference. Those 20 minutes of focus and failure then moderate improvement, if done on a regular basis, will make our technique pretty infallible over time.


When we recognise the difference between being busy and being effective, we can inspire ourselves to do the hard thing and commit to self-improvement in place of the “busy” yet fruitless distraction that we could (and should) leave to others. We can practice the drill.


The idea of failing until your head hurts is unappealing. But if we are consistent with the drill and learn through failure, improvement is inevitable. We will become effective. And then we can enjoy being less busy. Which will give us more headspace and time to connect. This in turn provides better opportunity to reassess our direction and clarify our aims. Then we can make sure we are effective in all the areas that really matter - and we are on a roll!


The drill is simply the practice we need to perform in order to ensure we are well-rehearsed and ready to move with purpose and poise. To decide on which areas to drill, stop and look at what you are doing first so that you recognise how improvement will enhance your output. Portion the job into bite-size chunks and document what you do for posterity. Diarise your drill.


The drill can be work-related, a daily headspace walk or a gym workout. It can be a specific procedure, or getting to grips with a concept. It can be a chapter of learning, or a practical run-through. It can even be a kit check. Or a check-in. But discipline is the heart of the matter. It’s doing the basics well.


  • What are your drills? Identify your needs

  • What do you need to square away in order to perform at your best?

  • What’s the stuff that trips you up because you have to think about it for longer than you feel you should, even though it’s a regular requirement of what you do?

  • How do you increase your competence, and how can you recruit some help if you need it?

  • Where can you access some guidance?

  • Get it nailed down, do the hard thing so that when the balloon goes up, you’re confident, capable and calm enough to cope in style.

  • Keep records so you can replicate

  • Brainstorm it, collaborate where you can, but do the hard thing before the hard thing does you.


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