We’re on the home stretch of a new recording from Jason Gray. The writing process for Jason has been a marathon. He was staying with us during some of the last weeks before the day we were scheduled to start recording. Some nights, I could hear him writing upstairs when I was going to bed, and still when I got up. He would have written through the night. And sometimes, he would’ve been working to move one line or two from good, to perfect.
Yes, Jason is a gifted songwriter. But he’s not great because he’s gifted. He’s great because he combines his gift with the willingness to work hard to craft that gift into great songs. Being great is hard.
I had the privilege of working on a recording with guitar legend Phil Keaggy. Since I had worked on the record, I went along for some of the radio promo tour. Unbeknownst to me, Phil and my rooms were adjacent to each others one night and I was awakened the next morning by the sound through the wall of someone practicing scales on the guitar.
Later in the lobby, I asked Phil “were you practicing scales this morning?” “Oh yeah” he said, “I try to get in three hours of practice a day and when I’m on the road, I have to get up early to work it in.” This is long after he was considered one of the greatest players in the world by common acclamation. Being great is hard.
Suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark has written 42 novels. Every one of them have been a national best seller. At a book signing, someone in the audience asked her since she had managed to produce so much work, if writing just came easy for her. She said “the first four months of writing a book, my mental image is scratching with my hands through granite. My other image is pushing a train up a mountain, and it’s icy, and I’m in bare feet.” Being great is hard.
I could tell story after story. It’s true at any level and in any field of endeavor. You want greatness? You work hard. Really hard.
Is there a place, project or talent in your life that is turning out average or mediocre? Do you want to move toward greatness with that thing? How hard are you willing to work?
Being great is hard.