Buddy Rich was arguably the greatest drummer who’s ever lived. In 1959 he had an angina attack and was told by his doctors that his drumming days were over. He brooded for a while, and then decided to become a singer. One night, he was singing in a New York City club and the great jazz singer Mel Torme was in the audience. After the gig, the two took a walk together and Buddy asked Mel what he thought of his singing. Measuring his words carefully, Mel, who played a little drums, said, “Well, let me put it this way: I’m not your favorite drummer and you’re not my favorite singer.”
It wasn’t what Buddy wanted to hear.
A few minutes later they came to 52nd Street and stepped into a jazz club where Allan Eager and his band were performing. Allan kept pressing Buddy to sit in on the drums, but he was reluctant because of his doctor’s orders. But both the musicians and the patrons were insistent, so he finally relented. A few minutes later, Buddy brought the house down with an 8-minute drum solo that left the customers screaming for more. That very night Buddy Rich gave up singing and went back to drumming, which he did until his death in 1987.
In life, it’s important to assess your talents correctly and do what you’re good at. Sadly, millions of people spend valuable time trying to demonstrate and sharpen talents they do not possess. Remember Michael Jordan’s misadventures as a baseball player? A world champion in basketball, he found that he couldn’t hit a curveball to save his life. Even mediocre minor league pitchers had no trouble getting him out. Watching him flail helplessly at pitch after pitch was excruciating.
Are you stubbornly trying to succeed at something you’re not good at? This is a critical question, especially for people who are frustrated and unhappy and can’t figure out why. Trying to succeed at something you’re not good at is like trying to write your name with your off hand. You might be able to do it, but it won’t look pretty and it won’t be any fun.
For further reflection read Daniel 1:17, Romans 12:6-8, and 1 Peter 4:10-11.