Choosing Excellence by Steven Gregory

In my first article for Bass Musician Magazine, there was a sentence that bears repeating:

“Have I mentioned that in our relationship,
my wife is the smart one?”

This truth was once again proven to me during a recent conversation.  While my wife and I were cooking dinner, I vented my concern over a rehearsal I had experienced.  I complained about the lack of preparation that plagued the session.  I griped and groaned about issues that were keeping the group from reaching our full potential. I smugly concluded my rant just as I handed the onions I had been chopping (which were now finely chopped) to my wife, who was waiting for them.

Without glancing up from the pan on the stove, she simply said, “It doesn’t matter”.

I was flabbergasted.  What did she mean, “It doesn’t matter”?  She couldn’t be serious?  Did she not listen to a single word I had said?  Had I not explained the situation in enough detail, or with enough passion?  Or perhaps she was saying that the state of affairs was irreparable and that acceptance was the only answer?

My wife, in an unflappable manner, continued:  “What are you doing to be excellent?”

Ouch.

She was absolutely right.  I had allowed dissatisfaction to whittle away at my efforts.  I wasn’t putting my normal amount of time into preparation.  I wasn’t practicing with the same drive and energy.  I wasn’t pushing the situation to be better.  I wasn’t leading from the bass chair. I wasn’t overflowing with a passion that was infectious.

I was not bringing personal excellence to the table.

In worship music, there is often talk of “bringing our best”.  I have heard this phrase countless times, but more often than not, the phrase is offered as a blanket statement to a group in an effort to instill a sense of responsibility. I am not suggesting that these words have been said with insincerity; rather, I think that it is critical that we as worship bassists examine and understand what it truly means to “bring our best”.  What does it mean to be excellent?

Blogger and leadership consultant Scott Williams wrote a definition of excellence, which I think is perfect for worship bassists:

“Excellence is a choice to care more than most think you should, risk more than most are willing to risk, dream bigger than most will ever dream and think more than others are willing to think.”
(Scott Williams,
www.bigisthenewsmall.com/2011/07/01/excellence-is-a-choice/)

For worship bassists, the most critical step to take toward excellence is making a choice.  Regardless of anything else in your worship situation, choose that you bring your absolute best every day.  Choose to, as creativity arts pastor and blogger Stephen Brewster writes, “…be willing to work, pursue, challenge, and fight to uncover the last 2% that requires love, passion, commitment and the refusal to be satisfied.
(Stephen Brewster, stephenbrewster.me/2011/12/13/preventing-greatness).

When you decide to be excellent, you will change.  You will begin to build new attitudes and actions.  You will notice the change as your efforts manifest in your playing, your musicianship, and your worship.  In addition, when you choose to be excellent, there is a direct effect on those around you.  Others will sense your drive, your passion, and your hard work.  Your playing will certainly be noticed, but your worship and leadership will be as well.  Your choice will bring others up around you. My wife was absolutely right – everything starts by asking, “What are you doing to be excellent?”

I realize that this article appears while many people are listing resolutions celebration of the New Year.  As we move toward becoming excellent worship bassists, I would suggest that we avoid making resolutions and instead challenge ourselves to do one simple thing:  choose to be excellent.

This step will start you on your journey and will tap into a store of creativity and excellence.  In the coming months, we will investigate specific ways in which excellence can be brought to worship bass.  For now, please let me know if you take the challenge!  Leave a comment, find me in the Bass Musician Magazine Community, or send me a message on Twitter.  I would love to hear your story and how you can bring excellence to worship bass!

Until next time, I hope that your bass playing is blessed and that you can bless others through your bass playing!

Steve Gregory

About Steve Gregory

Steve is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music and serves as the bass player and assistant band director for the Highlands Fellowship (Abingdon campus) praise band.  Much of his time is dedicated to exploring bass in the praise and worship setting while working to dispel the myth that worship bass is boring, bland, and musically unfulfilling.  Steve also enjoys playing for a wide variety of musical opportunities, in both live and studio settings.

Comments

  1. Jonathan Moody says

    Well done, and your wife is brilliant! We’re too caught up sometimes in focusing on what’s wrong in rehearsals or performances that we forget to bring what right.

  2. Raul Amador says

    It is said that there is a woman behind all great men…. Even better if she is brilliant!

    If this article changes even just one player for the better it will be a smashing success!

    Well done!

  3. Ted says

    How about an article on how not to choke, even when you’ve prepared well? In any case, I’m in!

  4. Steve Tardy says

    Steve…this was so well written…straight from your heart, and your wifes pointing out the proper perspective of ones focus on there worship music playing/singing. I do find myself focusing on other’s ‘time they have put into practice’, and that’s not my job. If I can adapt to it that’s great! Please than your wife (again) for her help, and thank you for your help writing this out.

  5. Steve Gregory says

    Jon: Thanks for the kind words. I agree with your assessment that my wife is brilliant – I’m sure she won’t mind hearing it a few more times! :-)

    Your line sums it up perfectly: “We’re too caught up sometimes in focusing on what’s wrong in rehearsals or performances that we forget to bring what right.”

  6. Steve Gregory says

    Ted: Getting into the game of chasing excellence is the biggest step, so congrats! Making that decision truly will change the way you approach your playing and I’m excited to see what happens for you!

    I can most certainly talk about the mental game (avoiding choking, self-talk, etc) in a future column – great idea!

  7. Steve Gregory says

    Steve: thank you so much for reading and for your support. I truly appreciate you mentioning that it seemed straight from my heart – I always approach the column with prayer and am always thankful for being given the ideas to write. Keep me posted on how the fight for focus goes for you, I really do want to hear about your journey!

    PS – I’ll definitely thank my wife again…she’s great!!!

  8. Marc Dekenah says

    Steve,

    In a previous article you speak of how not to discount the impact you may have on someone in the congregation. Here I need to almost “fess up” ‘cos, as a semi-pro sound guy, what I was finding was I was getting hot under the collar (this is a mild statement!) because I was applying this to the sound guy who is not pulling his weight and bringing improvement (others have made similar comments).

    But what a “reality check” when you ask “but what are you doing?”. It hit me quite hard. Yes, what am I doing? Am I bringing the best in my bass playing? The answer is a resounding “NO”! I’ve allowed the sound guy’s poor performance to affect mine. Thank you for showing me it’s my duty to my brother to lead him…. by example!

    Please keep writing.

    God’s richest blessings,
    M. <

  9. Steve Tardy says

    Steve,
    I wanted to pass on to you that as you know God gives up help from sources were we would have never expected. What you have written greatly prepaid me for yesterday. It was cool!
    Thank you again.
    GIGS (Groovin’ In God’s Service)
    Steve

  10. Steve Gregory says

    Marc,

    Thanks for sharing that story – I’m finding more and more people have had similar experiences. It is so easy to be distracted by others and to allow that distraction to take us away from our own excellence! It sounds like you had a “wake up” similar to mine and I can completely understand being “hit hard”, but that is a good thing!

    Thanks so much for reading – I hope bass blessings flow your way!!

  11. Steve Gregory says

    Steve,

    Wow! I’m so glad that I could be a tiny part of that blessing (I’m absolutely just the messenger)! Thank you for letting me know…very, very cool!!

    BTW – love the “GIGS”!!!

  12. says

    Wow, this is a fantastic post! These ideas don’t just apply to bass playing, they apply to every part of your life!

  13. Steve Gregory says

    Victor – thanks for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I agree that excellence (and keeping excellence in view) is definitely applicable to life in many, many ways!

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