How I Figured out the Key to Success when I was Ten

Eugenia Salnikova
3 min readNov 3, 2020

and realized it twenty-three years after

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

I strongly despised piano classes when I was a kid. Please don’t ask why I didn’t beg my family to quit — I really have no idea. Probably it’s because I like finishing things, no matter how hard and unpleasant they are. Good quality for an adult, questionable trait for a kid who learned how to fake a headache just to skip classes.

If I only knew back then I was just one class away from a huge lifehack. Something that you see on the main page of Medium every day and read about in 99% self-help books.

The classes in my post-USSR country were … special. I started the piano school just after the Soviet Union broke down. Even if the state was no longer there, the mentality was. You were either perfect or a loser, there was no in between. In terms of piano I was very far from being a winner. A teacher actually said to my Mom in front of me when I was four: “You are so talentless that I refuse to teach her, go find another teacher”.

I did get another teacher and kept not doing my homework and never got to loving the piano. My teachers were yelling at me, I kept “forgetting” to take my books — all that while being a straight-A student at school.

Flash Forward: I am actually taking piano classes now, at 33 and I have never loved a hobby more than this one.

One day I couldn’t take it anymore. I was just tired. I was ten and I was already tired of lying to my teachers, coming up with excuses and torturing myself for no reason.

I realized that the moment when I would magically fall in love with music would not come. I also understood that I would not suddenly wake up with the knowledge of the music sheets I had been avoiding. I was waiting for a miracle, for a stroke of genius, for a revelation when I would just sit down and play. That ten-year-old finally figured out it wasn’t going to happen.

My parents weren’t home. I took the music sheet with Rigaudon (a music piece). I can’t remember anything from what I played back then but Rigaudon is with me forever. Out of the blue, I decided to play it fifty times in a row. No matter how imperfect, how many times I stumbled or stared at the sheet looking for the right place.
I would stay at that instrument until I wrote the number “50” in my notebook.

I started playing. 36 times. 42 times. 50 times. A couple of hours later I was done with my mini-challenge. I didn’t feel like I became a music prodigy, a genius or even remotely talented in terms of music. I didn’t even feel that I got better at Rigaudon. I felt accomplished because I kept a promise made to myself. So, I went to bed.

During my class the next day my teacher was traumatized. “What happened to you? Why are you suddenly on a completely different level with your Rigaudon?”, I can still hear her voice.

I didn’t know what to say. I just played it 50 times. Even in the sphere where I was the least talented (and not even a bit inspired) back then, I managed to achieve the result with simple consistency.

I was too young to make a motivational class, a webinar or even an article out of it. I didn’t even see the connection between the input and the output. However, deep inside it stuck with me. If ever I become a motivational speaker (which I won’t), I will tell this story as my before and after.

If I do something repeatedly, I am more likely to succeed. If I rely on luck and talent, the person without any talent but who will have played the Rigaudon 50 times, will be better than me.

Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes it true, honest and yours. It makes it guilt-free and enjoyable. It simply gives results. We all have our own Rigaudon and we can all play it 50 times in a row.



Eugenia Salnikova

Ukrainian in Paris. Doing things and writing about them. I love seeing casual daily activities as life-transforming experiences and finding some wisdom in them.