One of the most important issues when it comes to getting good at playing guitar, or at anything else for that matter, is dedication. Today´s entry will deal with some examples of big dedication to a subject, and the payoff you´ll get when you struggle hard with something you love.
My first example is two football (or soccer, as americans would call it) players who has dedicated their lives to their passion. The first one is the belgian player Romelu Lukaku, which in the time that this is written is considered to be one of the most promising young footballers in the world. Lukaku is one of those players who don´t just trains hard, he also studies football. Romelu was brought up in a family who pushed him to educate himself, to get good at other things than sports, and he has taken this into the world of football. So in addition to his daily training and the matches he plays, Lukaku also watches a ton of football. And not just for fun, no, he analyzes the great players of other teams and what they do. How can Steven Gerrard see the free space in which he plays that great crossball? How can Lionel Messi dribble through the best defenses in the world? And what could Wayne Rooney have done differently to get a goal when he loses the ball? Lukaku watches the games at the same time as he thinks about what´s being done and what could have been done differently. He looks for weak spots in teams which he will face later in the season and he looks for ways to improve himself to get as good as his idols. He learns from the masters, and this is an important thing for everyone to do. If you love the way Al Di Meola plays his fast, palm muted runs, then analyze how he does it and how you can incorporate this idea into your own playing. This was just the way Eddie Van Halen invented his style of tapping: he was watching a clip of Jimmy Page doing legato pull-offs against an open string and thought to himself "what if I do it the other way around?". So instead of an open string, he started tapping the note above the legato pull-off with his picking hand, and guitar history was made.
Another footballer with an amazing dedication is Cristiano Ronaldo. You´ve propably heard of him even if you´re not into sports, because he is one of the absolute biggest stars. I once watched the training schedule that he goes through every week, and it was brutal. It wasn´t even a training schedule, it was a schedule of life. It included what to eat, how much sleep he needs and different focus points such as running and jumping. For instance, Ronaldo never eats sugar and tries to sleep between nine to ten hours every night, so his body will recover from his hard workout. And there´s payoff: Cristiano isn´t far behind the fastest short track runners in the world (runners who doesn´t have to focus on balls and offsides and defenders, just get really fast from point A to point B) and his ability to jump really high gives him the opportunity to get up and head corner kicks while the other teams defenders are desperately trying to get a hold on him. Ronaldo´s athletic body gives him a big advantage in a sport where you need every little advantage you can get.
My third and last example is John Petrucci. If you´re a guitarist who doesn´t give a rat's ass about sports, you´ll certainly know about mister Petrucci. He´s the lead guitarist of progmetal outfit Dream Theater and his chops are sharp as hell. Petrucci himself has made a great instructional video called "Rock Discipline", and the title tells you a bit about him. Yes, it all comes down to discipline when you want to achieve something really great, and Petrucci has it. He´s dedicated to his passion, so much that even if he has done his own instructional video he´s still looking for ways to improve himself by looking thorugh other guitarist´s books and guitar magazines. When Petrucci finds something that seems useful he cuts it out and files in his own archive. This archive serves as John´s own practicing buddy, a bible filled with useful tools for him to practice. You can dislike John´s music, but you can´t deny the fact that he´s a great, devoted guitarist who still pushes his own boundaries.
You can do this too, but it takes a lot of work. However, if you´re ready to put in a lot of work, then you´re on the right path. I´m sure Lukaku, Ronaldo and Petrucci all have struggled with their dedication, but they have overcome mountains, they have followed their passion, just like anyone can do. All you need is the right frame of mind and never give up.