I don’t know why it is, but here’s the truth: I only improve as a guitarist if I try to think like a “lead” guitarist (think Slash, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, and gang). It really is parallel to the fact that I try to get my students to reach for beautiful sentences at the level of the masters, and that I try for that myself.
Strange, huh? Reach for the stars, and maybe you’ll get to the top of a tree. But reach for the top of the tree and maybe you’ll crash and burn. (Thanks to my sec 4 Chinese teacher for that saying. Mixed metaphors and whatever, but it works.)