Back To Basics Executive Coaching Series – The Saxophone Story – Discounting
When I was a kid, I really wanted to play saxophone because I listened to jazz records, and it looked and sounded really cool and sexy. I thought, “Okay, that’s the instrument I want to play.”
I had a conversation with my mom, the musician in the family, and I told her I really wanted to play the saxophone. It looks really sexy and cool. She said, “Let’s talk about this. If you want to play the saxophone, you have to play a classical instrument first and we’ll start with the piano.”
So I played piano for five years, and after five years I went to her and I said, “Can I play the saxophone now?”
And she said, “No, no, no, no, no, no. You have to play in an orchestra. So we’re not going to give you a saxophone, you’re going to have to play clarinet.” So I played clarinet for another five years and it was okay, but it wasn’t a saxophone.
After ten years I stopped playing clarinet and piano. Then when I was in my thirties, I was walking along the street and I passed a music store. I said to my friend, “Oh, look at all the saxophones!” And I told her this story. That’s when I heard myself racketeering about my parents. “Oh, they never let me play. I always had to play classical music.”
My friend said, “Listen, you’re thirty-six now, you’re an adult. You have enough money to buy a saxophone. Why aren’t you doing it?” And I thought, “Oh my God, I’m grown up. I can actually buy my own saxophone.”
This is a classical example of discounting. You have all the tools to solve a problem, but for some reason it’s more comfortable to keep on complaining and discounting your own capacity to solve the problem than it is to actually buy a saxophone.
Luckily now I do have a saxophone. It’s standing pride of place in my room. And I actually don’t play it.