The Pianist: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson


The Pianist: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson

12th August 2015

You know, if I could ask God for a little bit more of any character trait, I would ask for more discipline. It is the one thing I have struggled with the most throughout my life. I find it easy to start new projects, but the tough part is sticking with it once I start. I get easily distracted, I procrastinate, I want to find some sort of optimal conditions for me to operate in, I give myself all kinds of excuses and reasons to abandon a project before completion, just so I can free up my time to go do something else. It is a character flaw that comes with a high cost – a cost which I soon learnt I simply can’t afford in a job like mine.

I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about. We have great ideas, grand schemes and revolutionary resolutions, but somehow, they never materialise, or we start, but never finish. 

Making the initial decision isn’t usually a problem. If we look in the mirror and we don’t like what we see, it’s not hard to make a decision to start going to the gym/ When we go to church and the pastor’s sermon seems to be a narration of our own lives, it doesn’t take much for us to answer the altar call and give our lives to Christ. When our bosses insult and degrade us once too many, we have no difficulty deciding on the spot to pursue that MBA we’ve always wanted. After fifteen job interview yield no results, it’s the most natural thing in the world for us to finally decide to start our own business. 

Making the decision is easy, it’s sticking to it that’s the challenge. 

There was a young boy who wanted to become a classical pianist. His grandfather was helping him by making him practice his scales every day. For hours, Grandpa would watch on as the boy practiced and practiced. While his friends played football, the boy practiced. While his siblings went to parties, the boy practiced. Naturally, the boy wanted to do other things too, but Grandpa wouldn’t let him stop practicing. Until one day, he snapped.

“Grandpa, I’m tired”, He complained. “I’m tired of this piano, I’m tired of these scales. I want to play football. I want to go to parties with my brothers and sisters. I don’t want to be a concert pianist anymore”.

Grandpa smiled and said, “Ok my boy. You can go and be whatever you want, but I only ask that you decide to be a pianist for one more day. Just for today”. 

The boy agreed and finished practicing his scales. The following day, Grandpa said the same thing to him, “Just decide to be a pianist for one more day”, and each time, the boy would do just that. Day after day, the boy made a fresh decision to be a pianist, and accordingly practiced his scales. 

So of course, the boy became a classical pianist – perhaps the greatest concert pianist that ever lived, Sergei Rachmaninov. Today, his music is enjoyed by discerning music lovers around the world, who would never have had the chance to do so, if that little boy had not made a daily decision to pursue his goal.

My friends, success is hardly ever automatic. It is not always about applying your talent until it bears fruit either. Sometimes, success requires you to sign a contract with yourself to do the right thing, and then renew that contract with yourself every day of your life.

Discipline has never come as easily to me as decision making has, and so this has been my strategy: Whenever I make a decision and I need to stick to it, I simply make that decision again every day until the job is done. That is after all what discipline is. It is that resilience – that spirit within you that chooses a course of action and then just keeps choosing it again and again until the choice becomes automatic. 

My name is Kojo Yankson, and I’m making the choice to pursue my destiny for just one more day.