The Obstacle IS the Path: Guitarist and Inventor Les Paul

Every setback might be the very thing that makes you carry on and fight all the harder and become that much better. And I’ll probably play until I fall over and that’s the end.

Les Paul in 2005. The legendary guitarist and inventor played until a few months before his death at age 94 in 2009.


Les Paul lived those words. After an injury to his right elbow in a car crash, doctors said they couldn’t rebuild it. So Paul told them to fuse it at a 90-degree angle so he could still play. You can see this in the video below. He had some of his biggest hits after the accident.

It can be tough to own that attitude toward failure. It’s one of the more important, unspoken mindsets about practice that we aren’t often told. The topic of dealing with adversity (and much more) is covered in more detail in The Practice of Practice.

Listen to the brief NPR story about Les Paul.


A 1966 Merv Griffin Appearance

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