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One of my favorite podcasts I frequently listen to for inspiration isThe Tim Ferriss Show. The whole premise of his show is "deconstructing world-class performers". He conducts long-form interviews, usually ranging from 1-2 hours. Even if I have absolutely no interest in the subject he is discussing, I always take away nuggets of wisdom as he probes the minds of the world's greatest athletes, businessmen, magicians, actors, musicians, and more.
On a recent episode, a particularly tragic one I might add, Tim interviewed Terry Laughlin, a world-class swim coach, who recently passed away. From the time Tim interviewed him to the time the episode was released, Terry had a stroke, after being in the hospital for cancer treatments. Even after the stroke, as he struggled to talk, he was being interviewed by his daughters about things he wanted to convey to his swim students in his renowned swimming course, Total Immersion. It was touching to listen as this man, who was days away from death, was still so passionate about sharing his learning techniques, mindset hacks, and life lessons with his daughters, who would ultimately pass on the audio files to Tim Ferriss to publish as an addendum to the podcast.
In my opinion, the greatest line from the podcast went something like this:
When you're swimming in choppy or turbulent water, it is critical that you stay calm. The choppier the water, the more calm you must find within yourself. The outside forces must not have an impact on your inner peace. Greater turbulence, greater inner calm."
As I prepare the Rachmaninoff 3rd Concerto for a performance in January, I must constantly remind myself of this - outside turbulence, inner calm. The 80-page treacherous beast of a piece is one of the most passion-filled masterworks I've ever had the privilege of playing. It comes with a large set of stressors that can challenge even the most seasoned pianist (which I'm not calling myself). When practicing the most difficult passage, whether it is technically challenging or a nightmare to memorize, I do my best to abandon doubt, and focus on what really matters...the beauty and vitality that is present in every note.