Imagine you’re at a party, where you’ve been introduced to two strangers. One is laid-back and well-kempt. As you chat about your careers, you get the feeling that he has it together. He’s interested in what you have to say and happy to engage in a little friendly debate when your opinions differ.
The other stranger is a little frantic. It’s clear he’s at this party to make connections that will further his goals – though it’s a little hard to figure out exactly what those goals are. He’s quick to change his opinion to match that of whoever is nearby, and he seems like nothing so much as a drowning man searching for a life raft. He isn’t unfriendly, or inherently uninteresting; he’s just… desperate.
Which man would you rather talk to for the rest of the evening? Unless you are a glutton for punishment, you’d prefer the first. And why? Because he seems secure.
Security and the Classical Performer
Security isn’t the first word to come to mind when thinking of classical performers – the word is more likely to conjure images of retirement fund managers. Even so, it’s an important trait to cultivate if you want to attract audience members, venue bookers, and yes, even strangers at parties.
So what exactly does security mean? What does it look like and how can you do it?
Security is simply the sense that everything will be ok – can meet your needs, your goals are obtainable, and no crisis is looming on the horizon. Is security about money? Yes. And also no. For most of us, meeting our needs and achieving the lifestyle we want requires a certain amount of money. Of course, that amount varies greatly depending on what we personally consider to be an ideal life. Thankfully, there are three steps that you can take to develop and display a sense of security, regardless of the size of your bank account.
How to Become Secure
Make a plan
Secure people know where they are going and how they’re going to get there. Things may change, they often do, but they have a plan in place. They are not just flying by the seat of their pants and hoping for the best. Consider your needs and figure out how you’re going to meet them. While you’re at it, make a backup plan.
Now that you have a plan, gather the skills and tools you need to put it in place. While being prepared can bring to mind images of evacuation plans and basements filled with canned goods in case of natural disaster, it’s more helpful to think of being ready for the ordinary mishaps and unexpected opportunities that are more likely to arise.
If you know there is always a slow season, save money now to prepare for it. If you generally travel by car, make sure you have access to roadside assistance in case of a problem. If you spend a lot of time exploring unfamiliar places while traveling, bring an overnight bag so you don’t have to go all the way back to your hotel if the opportunity arises to spend the night somewhere new and interesting. Being prepared for any contingency goes a long way toward building a sense of security.
Expect the Best
The final piece of the puzzle is perhaps the most important. Security comes from having a mindset of abundance and possibility. Adopt the mindset that everything will turn out for the best. In negotiations, expect to win. This doesn’t mean that you will necessarily get everything that you want, but that you expect that what you end up with will be just the thing you need.
Remember that as a professional performing musician you are an expert. Very few people know as much about music as you do. You deserve to be treated well, and you should expect respect. Walk into any performance or negotiation expecting that you will be valued for what you have to offer. This expectation prevents you from being defensive and closed off and makes it much easier to present your audience with an authentic experience and your negotiating partner with the confidence that you can deliver.
There is, of course, a fine line between being confident in your abilities and worth and being arrogant. Interestingly, people that are arrogant are often the most insecure. They refuse to entertain other people’s opinions or praise other people’s strengths because they are afraid of being shown up. Avoid arrogance at all costs. It is the antithesis of security, and everyone can sense it.
If you’d like to learn more about creating a secure, profitable performing career as a classical musician, check out Concert University and register for our free webinar outlining Five Strategies for Success!