Process Over Product: The Secret to Learning Guitar

Process Over Product: The Secret to Learning Guitar

Not too many people understand exactly how much fun it is to learn guitar slowly.

There's no rush, no need for urgency. A lot of people are wrapped up in the hope that they will one day experience the magical moment when they can play guitar and can label themselves "good" at it. They rush to experience that feeling, and it doesn't end well.

I've practiced and studied guitar for more than twenty five years, and I've still not experienced a complete enlightenment with it. Moreover, the process of learning guitar is so enjoyable for me that I don't worry about outcomes anymore. I might get a moment or two of elation from time-to-time, but these moments are always fleeting and short-lived. Honestly, it'll be the same for you.

I know that the process of learning is far more important than where it leads to. What do I mean by process? If we understand process, how it differs from product, and understand how it can apply to your aspiration to learn guitar, it can help you make a great friend out of music for the rest of your life. Let's get started with definitions.

Definitions: Product & Process

Product is the reward you get, a moment of elation, a feeling of satisfaction when you complete a goal. Process is the work that you did to complete that goal. Neither one is superior to the other. 

Playing your first song ever can be a product, while all the work and hours of practice that you do to learn and play that song was the process. Playing your first gig ever can be a product, while all the rehearsing was the process. 

Most beginners try to bank on the product for motivational purposes, kind of like a carrot dangled in front of them. But, without a healthy appreciation for the process of learning, they'll never get to that product. Without putting time or effort into guitar, without a bit of patience, it will never happen. You can't just push your way through. 

Being okay with slow process work gives you the edge in learning guitar, so let's talk more about process.

Focusing on process provides you with adventure and results

I am a big fan of getting into the process of learning. I find it liberating to give up control over achieving goals, over getting some product. I love adventures! I love the sense of becoming more skillful without any other motivation other than watching myself get stronger and enjoying the adventure I'm on. 

For example, I am currently learning how to play piano. My job is to enjoy the process of learning it. I don't have an agenda. I have no idea where taking piano lessons will lead me. I just let go and focus on the day-to-day minutia of learning, aka the process. When I'm at the piano, it's a lot of fun. I accept where I am with my abilities, and yet I'm still improving. I'm learning without effort. This is process in action.

It takes a leap of faith to try out the process mindset. I don't expect many people to just jump into this idea immediately. Please consider, however, that process provides you with even stronger results and takes less effort than urgently striving for a desirable outcome. Consider that process allows you to savor the adventures you are in, and love where you are currently without being too worried about where you ought to be. Consider that process is actually a lot of fun.