While watching “It Might Get Loud” one cannot help but be struck by the absolute ecstasy of Jimmy Page when he listens to Link Wray’s “Rumble,” while standing in a den full of vinyls, CDs, and more. At whatever advanced age he has reached, he stands there air guitaring to a song that is decades old and grins from ear to ear like a child. At the same time he talks in depth and with nuance about the subtleties of each cord and manipulation of the electric guitar. Although he may be one of the greatest rock guitarists ever, this is not a moment of coolness, but rather geekdom.
One of my coaching collaborators at BU’s Athletic Enhancement Center would say that this is a moment of Jimmy Page “geeking out.” Those striving for excellence and certainly those that managed to achieve it, spend a lot of time “geeking out” about their chosen domain of striving. Behind the scenes, rock musicians don’t talk about women, beer, and liquor – they talk about all of the ridiculous ways that they can get great music out of whatever is before them. Great athletes don’t talk about their press or even their points – they talk about the kinesiology of making the great play or how to maximize every training opportunity. Strength coaches don’t boast about the athletes they have coached – they talk about subtle ways to help an athlete drop a tenth of a second on a sprint time or be able to withstand the punishment of a long season better. Sport psych coaches don’t play armchair psychologist about sports headlines – they talk about the psych-social needs of athletes and how to best empower them.
Geeking out has little to do with the glory, but everything to do with the greatness.
Having fun with the “cool” aspects of performance and the applause that might follow is human. The athlete or coach (or musician) that takes time to do the “uncool” stuff of studying hard, challenging one’s self daily, and surrounding himself with peers that push him truly strives and succeeds. Perhaps more importantly they find pleasure at the deepest levels in their pursuits. Being inquisitive and humble when the fans have left, the scoreboard has been turned off, and only the toughest critics (one’s peers) are in the room is a difference maker on so many levels.
Jimmy Page has had a long career and looks to be fully engaged at every moment when music is present. Take some time to “geek out” over what you love and what you do… for greatness, for longevity, just for the fun of it.