Posts Tagged 'excellence'

Gold Has a Musty Smell

The spirit of songs from so many legends inhabit the walls of RCA’s Studio B in Nashville. A nondescript building with faded tile floors, walls that could use a fresh coat of paint, and creaky doors is the place of legend. Elvis owned a gold plated Cadillac, but his recording studio of choice had little resemblance to Fort Knox. Dolly Parton rocks the rhinestones, but there is little bling in her Studio B. The Everly Brought some rock and roll to Nashville, but the building where they laid down hits shows little excitement of a a rock and roll lifestyle.

RCA Studio B

Not far from Studio B and Music Row sits the Country Music Hall of Fame. Lots of glitz, a bit of glamour, and many gold records on display. When the lights of the Opry turn on, things sparkle. Rhinestones reflect, artists perform, and the crowd goes wild. Gold records are a lot prettier than the dimly lit cave that is the studio.

Gold Records

The studio and the show are certainly two different worlds. The efforts, excellence, and emotions of the studio are a musician’s sweet spot… where passion and production come together… later to be rewarded on a wall in the hall.

Seems to be a bit like sport. The pomp of big time sport is only the shiny specter of the passion laid out on a dusty baseball diamond, a heat soaked soccer pitch, a poorly maintained tennis court, or a dimly lit rink. It is so easy to notice the gold medals and golden trophies. It is too easy to neglect the effort and excellence laid down in the mustiness.

Performers and athletes blinded by the gold rarely soak in the good stuff provided by a little grime and the stale smells of full engagement in one’s craft.


Outside the Box High Performance Reads

It’s Christmas time and books are always a great gift. I’ve commented on books that I felt were good reads for anyone trying to learn more about high performance (see 5ish Good Reads and No Secrets, No Shortcuts), but this time around I want to get a bit outside of clear cut sports or clear cut psychology books. The following three books were terrific and explored high performance experiences in some interesting ways:

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson (2005)

The story of deep sea scuba divers discovering a German U-Boat off the coast of New Jersey. In the life or death sport of wreck diving, it’s made clear how thirst for adventure, a quest to be the first to discoveries, and the thoughtfulness of preparation come together.  Diver John Chatterton’s “indisputable truth” list on page 81 can translate well to most endeavors. It begins with, “If an undertaking was easy, someone else already would have done it.” Get the book, read the rest, and read it all.

The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman (2001)

From the smothering pressure of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) master chef exam to Michael Symon’s creative kitchen of Lola (Cleveland) to Thoms Keller’s care, treatment, and precision that elevates dining to heavenly levels, this book paints clear pictures of high performance. The CIA is all about performance under pressure. Symon typifies creative excellence. Keller’s kitchen combine the two. Throughout the pages one gets a sense of the athleticism of culinary pursuits.

West of Jesus by Steven Kotler (2006)

“Surfing, science, and the origins of belief,” a sub-title that really says it all. Written with a voice that is witty, self-aggrandizing, and insightful, the pages fly by. This is well beyond a, “Dude, surfing is a spiritual experience,” book. Kotler artfully blends neuroscience and a world wide pursuit of a theological understanding of flow. Whether it is the brooding about “the weatherman” or thoughts on the brain science of dropping in on a big wave, it’s worth a read.

Enjoy them all. Give them as a gift… or get them for yourself. Happy holidays.


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