The truth about my success as a guitar teacher

The simple reason most people fail to succeed can be summed up in one word. ‘EXCUSES’. 
In my 20’s I started reading business and self development books which I must say are not that different. Your success in business will be as much about your own self development as it will be about the development of your business. The overriding theme in the books I read was excuses. Excuses rob us of the power to control our lives. After all an excuse is simply a statement that says I am or was powerless to make a choice. Understanding this shifted my thinking but I will say it many years to completely change the way I approached life. We largely react to situations and it seems blame or excuses are what our reactions default to. Overcoming this reactive need to blame or make excuses became the key to my success. 
Your own success as a teacher and entrepreneur will depend on much you take responsibility and this relates to whether or not you accept excuses. Both your own and the excuses of others. In this podcast I am going to point out why, excuses are holding you back personally. I will also talk about why your effectiveness as a teacher/entrepreneur comes down to how well you handle excuses.
Let’s start with you. Chances are if you are listening to this podcast you are either already a guitar teacher or thinking about becoming one. Now, if you are already teaching let’s say you have been doing so for about 2 years, and now you have about 30 students. Those 30 students provide enough income to pay the basic bills but that’s about it. You know, that 50 students could provide the much needed extra income to improve your lifestyle. 100 students, would take it to a whole new level. Instead of $30k a year you would be earning $100k and earning more than any guitar teacher you probably know. So what’s stopping you from teaching 100 students and earning $100k per year? You guessed it. EXCUSES.
Perhaps you tell yourself, there is just not that many people in your area, wanting to pay for guitar lessons. If it’s true then move. 
Perhaps you don’t have the time to teach 100 students a week. Make the time. Stop wasting your time, working the $15 per hour part time job or better still, teach in groups.
Perhaps you don’t have the space for teaching groups. Find the space. Go out and look for it.
Perhaps you just don’t have the skill or knowledge to teach groups. Go out and find the knowledge and skills.
Perhaps you don’t have the business or marketing skills. Again, go out and find it.
I think you get the idea. You have a million excuses and if you are completely honest with yourself, none of them are genuine excuses. Every problem has a solution. You just have to be prepared, to put in the effort, to find the solution and push past your excuses.
Now let’s look at other people’s excuses. When you buy into other people’s excuses you are allowing them, and you, to fail. If a student says to you, they don’t have time to practice do you accept that excuse? If you do, they fail on guitar, and you fail as a teacher.
If a student says an exercise is too difficult without even trying, do you accept it, or do you encourage them to at least, give it a go. You see, ‘too difficult’ is about the most common excuse there is. We would still be living in caves if ‘too difficult’ was a legitimate excuses. Just about every human advancement, was considered, ‘too difficult’ at some point in history. To be able to run the 4 minute mile was considered, not only too difficult, but impossible prior to 1954. In that year Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile. It’s since been achieved by many others. What was once, too difficult or impossible, becomes achievable or even standard. 
Let me give you a recent student example. A student inquiring about guitar lessons said he wanted to wait, until after a family wedding to begin lessons, due to the fact that, he had a very busy schedule. The teacher encouraged the student to start straight away, and he did. He later said that it was a mistake and, would have preferred to have waited. The problem here is the student believes that starting guitar at a busy time, was stressful and, he would have been better to delay but, I can assure you, that this would have been a mistake.
Here was my response to the student.
“I do understand it must have been a very busy time. Your teacher’s encouragement, is likely, partly my fault. Having taught for many years, I have had numerous students in similar situations. I will say for the first 10 years, I would have totally agreed with you but, I noticed a pattern. Almost all of those students who delayed the starting dates for various reason, never appeared for their first lesson. I would often do follow up calls to find out what had happened, only to learn, they had lost motivation. Based on advice from one of my own mentors, I tried a different approach. Instead I encouraged students to begin straight away despite the time challenges in their life and, the results were amazing. I found that even though some students found it challenging, very few actually regretted starting when they did. In fact, starting during a hectic time, was a good test to see how they would handle future events.
I know everyone is different but, guitar is very much a lifestyle. Success comes from doing it everyday no matter what, is going on in your life. I have hardly missed a day’s practice in 35 years and it’s because it’s a habit. I honestly don’t give a second thought. I just pick up the guitar and practice every night but, it didn’t start out that way. It took a lot of effort in those early years but eventually, the habit took hold. Our aim with every student is to get them to that point.”
Even after the fact, the student believes it would have been a better decision to wait but, there are several reasons why this would have been a mistake.
1. Time waits for no man or woman. Any delay is simply lost time and puts your ultimate goal further into the future. You can’t get back lost time.
2. It’s a misguided belief to believe that certain life events make or break us and, are therefore, reasonable excuses for delaying long term goals. A wedding is an important life event, especially for those getting married but, in 5 years or 10 years it will be nothing more than a memory. The wedding itself, does not make for a successful marriage. A successful marriage is based on the daily habits of both parties. The best wedding ever, will not make up for a bad marriage and vice versa. The worst wedding, will not destroy a great marriage.  
3. If you put off your long term goals before you even begin, due to an event this is a sign of what’s to come. In other words, every time something comes up you will put your guitar on hold and, it’s only a matter on time before you put it on hold permanently. Think about it. If you met that special person and, had the chance for a second date would you say “Hey, I have a big event coming up over the next few months so, how about I give you a call after that?” Do you think they would wait around?  I don’t believe they would in most cases.
So in summary, the only reasonable acceptable excuse is injury or serious illness. If you buy any other excuses, either from a student or yourself, your failure and their’s is as good as guaranteed. In the words of Benjamin Franklin. ‘He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.’
This podcast was presented by David Hart from the G4 GUITAR SCHOOLS franchise. If you are interested in teaching guitar please fill in the form or visit and look for ‘Teach’. Thank you.
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