March 1, 2019
March 1, 2019
No one has a life or career free from disappointment and failure. The overnight success of any musician, like the overnight success of any person in any field, is really a long story of repeatedly rising after a fall.
Optimism Sees Opportunity
Optimism is hopefulness and confidence in a positive outcome. So, how can one be optimistic when something has gone wrong? Refusing to acknowledge the failure doesn’t help – that’s not optimism, that’s delusion. An optimist accepts the failure, but instead of being mired down in useless negative thinking – Things never work out; I knew I wouldn’t get it; I’ll never live this down – they look for the lesson.
Optimism puts failure in perspective and sees it as an opportunity to do better next time. Your audition didn’t go as planned? Now you know what NOT to do next time. As Thomas Edison said when trying to invent the lightbulb, “I didn’t fail. I found 10,000 ways that do not work.”
To be optimistic, you must view failure not as a dead end, but instead as a T in the road – a place where you decide which way to go next on your route to eventual success.
View Failure as Inner Strength Training
Imagine we have two lab rats. One rat has always lived in a cozy little cage with a daily supply of cheese delivered directly to his bowl. The other rat has spent each day bumping into walls, turning around, trying to find a path to the cheese that is always hiding somewhere in the middle of an ever-changing maze.
Which rat ends up better prepared to deal with challenges? If we ran those two rats through an obstacle course, which would be most likely to win?
The one that hit the wall over and over again.
Failure teaches adaptability and resourcefulness. Easy success, being able to reach out and grab your cheese, actually reduces your chances for long term success. Why? Because you’ve been deprived of the opportunity to strengthen your resilience. When something changes, and things always change, you have no muscles to meet the challenge. Adversity and failure are the barbells of growth. Optimists sweat and suffer through adversity like everyone else, but they recognize that the strength they are gaining is going to get them closer to their goal.
The Power of Positive Pals
Optimism is a mindset. Often, if you want to change your mindset, you have to change your environment. Humans are social creatures – we tend to adopt the thinking of the people around us. If your group believes that there is no work for classical musicians, you’re likely to believe that as well, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, people who have no work have nothing to teach you about how to find it.
If you believe that all the good gigs are taken, go hang out with people who took them. If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people. The beauty is that optimistic, successful people are much more fun to spend time with than negative nay-sayers anyway. Optimists foster hope. Their forward momentum inspires enthusiasm, and their energy attracts people, opportunities, and ultimately, success.
So the next time something doesn’t go as planned, don’t be despondent. Look for the lesson, then rise, grow, and conquer.
If you are ready to take your performing career to the next level, check out Concert University and the free webinar that gives you 5 strategies for success. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.
“She’s your down-to-earth friend whose pals are Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise,”
– Eric Deggans of The Petersburg Times, describing Oprah Winfrey.
If you are looking to grow your audience, Oprah Winfrey makes a pretty good role model. What has made her so incredibly popular for so long?
It’s this: though we all know that she is one of the wealthiest, most influential people on the planet, she still manages to come across as down to earth.
You are focused on building a profitable career as a performing musician, not a TV personality, but learning how to cultivate and project a down-to-earth attitude is a critical key to connecting with audiences, and gathering support.
Practical and Unpretentious
Flighty, head in the clouds, high and mighty, up on a pedestal – just like down-to-earth, these opposites conjure vivid images.
A person who is down-to-earth is grounded in reality. She may have big dreams and extravagant goals, but she also has a solid understanding of her current situation. She knows her strengths and weakness and what kind of work is going to be required to reach those goals. She sets priorities, recognizing that there isn’t enough energy in the world to manifest every whim or idea. Her head may be touching the clouds, but her feet are planted firmly on the ground.
A down-to-earth person doesn’t hold himself above others. No matter how successful, he doesn’t look down from on high, feeling entitled while oblivious to the people below. He’s right there on the ground, on equal footing with everyone else. That’s perfect because that’s where his audience is too.
Say What You Mean
Down to earth people are attractive because they are relatable. They are relatable because they make an effort to understand what is important, interesting, and of value to others. The choices that they make and the things that they say are based on the circumstances and people that surround them.
They define what they do in simple, concrete terms that show they understand the needs and interests of the people they’re talking to. For example, when convincing someone to hire them for a performance, they present reasons and benefits that matter to that person.
A promoter may not care that fill-in-the-blank composer is the most undervalued of the Romantic period and you are one of the very few musicians who has mastered his most challenging piece. However, tell him that the end of the piece is so dramatic that audience members find themselves holding their breath on the edge of their seats, and you have his attention.
This isn’t dumbing it down – this is taking into consideration the fact that other people are not obsessed with the same things that obsess you. A down to earth person doesn’t need to flaunt an expansive, technical vocabulary because he has taken to heart Oscar Wilde’s sage advice: “Don’t use big words. They mean so little.”
As professional musicians, we know things about music and instruments that the average person has never even considered. Subtleties of sound stand out to us like black stripes on a white wall. Being down to earth doesn’t require ignoring those subtleties, but it does require we look at them in context.
You may be able to tell the difference between two instruments – you may know that one is significantly better than the other, but being practical means honestly assessing whether your audience can.
If traveling with the superior instrument requires a great deal more hassle than traveling with the lesser one, and the difference in experience for the audience is negligible, the down to earth person packs the lesser instrument and is on her way.
On the other hand, demanding that you be able to play only the very best, no matter the hassle, is not only impractical but also wildly arrogant. In essence, you are saying that what is important to you, because of your elevated status as an expert, is what is most important in the situation.
That isn’t down to earth, that’s diva-esque. If Oprah can’t get away with it, neither can you.
If you are committed to building a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, learn the five strategies for success in Concert University’s FREE webinar. If you would like to hear a live discussion about this, and other Characteristics, please visit ClassicJabber.com.
Self-respect, self-confidence, self-empowerment… we can’t have a conversation about success and fulfillment without tackling how we feel about ourselves.
Self-respect is the foundation of all other positive feelings about the self and the antithesis of the one thing we know we should avoid – selfishness. Healthy self-respect is built on a few fundamental truths that should be obvious but can be remarkably hard for many people, particularly creative professionals, to embrace.
You deserve to be here
You deserve to be treated well, to pursue, experience, and share happiness and success. Why? Because you ARE here. As a participant in this universe, those things are your birthright.
Self-respect has nothing to do with other people’s opinions
We all love to be admired and respected by others. Praise feels good, criticism feels bad, even if we know deep down that it helps us grow. However, other people’s opinions are their business. Whether someone likes you, your music, or your performance, is entirely out of your hands. Praise (or disregard, ugh) does not change your inherent worth.
Self-respect lives and dies by integrity
Integrity and honesty are the nutrients required to grow and maintain healthy self-respect. This requires not only being honest in your dealings with other people but also being honest with yourself.
Self-honesty is where self-respect often comes up against two opposing (and equally damaging) obstacles. The first is believing that you are not talented enough, good enough, or unique enough, to have anything of worth to offer. The second is believing that you are the best.
You are not the best. If you stand in front of a mirror every morning declaring, “I am the best (fill in the blank) ever!” you are kidding yourself. That isn’t self-respect. That is self-deception in the guise of self-adoration. There will always be people who are more “better” than you are. Even if there isn’t (and I promise there is), the world is just too big to make sure. You can’t be certain. You know it, and that doubt eats away at self-respect.
Growth breeds self-respect
So, you aren’t the best. That’s great news! That means you can continue to grow and improve. Everything we do, every person we meet, and circumstance we encounter changes us. Even the cells in our bodies are completely replaced every few years. Change and growth are critical to life.
As you pursue and achieve your goals, you are continually changing. Achieving success is wonderful, but it isn’t the most important thing. The most important thing is who you have become along the way.
Become a person who strives to gratefully enrich the lives of others. A person who embraces his own worth and the inherent worth of every other human being. A person who uses her talents to improve the world in whatever way possible. Live to be a person like that, and you will be and feel worthy of anyone’s respect – particularly your own.
Are you looking to create a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician? Check out Concert University and the free webinar that will teach you five strategies to escape the feast-or-famine cycle. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now
There are specific personality characteristics that everyone finds attractive. Business publications aimed at fostering success and leadership in the corporate world are fond of publishing lists of these traits, and no matter the source (Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Inc.) these same qualities appear again and again.
Among the list is inevitably a variation on compassionate / warm / empathetic. Regardless of the word chosen, these are all just synonyms for loving. Though loving may seem a strange choice for a business publication, it’s truly the best description, and just perfect for the world of professional musicians.
Love is a Verb
This time of year, we’re likely to associate loving with red hearts, sentimental cards, and candlelit dinners, all kinds of emotional or romantic trappings that are entirely out of place in a professional environment – regardless of the profession. However, as Scott Peck reminds us in The Road Less Traveled, love is a verb. To love is to put someone else’s wellbeing at the forefront of your attention. In short, it’s the antithesis of being self-centered.
The Loving Classical Performer
So, how do we express a loving nature in a professional context? There are a multitude of opportunities that can be boiled down to two categories: loving actions and a loving mindset.
Loving actions include anything you can actually DO to let other people know that they are important. Great examples include forwarding an article that would be of interest, publically acknowledging someone’s accomplishment or accolades, sending a quick email to check in, or even a handwritten, “Thinking of you,” note. Keeping track of birthdays (social media makes this easy) and taking a moment to send a genuine non-generic message of celebration is always appropriate.
A loving mindset is obviously a bit more vague and hard to quantify, but equally important. A loving mindset is tied, as nearly all of these attractive characteristics are, to the why behind what you do. It is one thing to be good at your craft, to be a competent, even excellent performing musician. However, if you are dedicated to being the best performer you can be so that you can gather accolades and admiration, you’re approaching it from a self-centered, ego-centric space. Your audience may not be able to name that, but they can feel it.
However, if you are dedicated to something bigger than success and fame, if your why involves making the world a better place, enriching the life of just one person through your music, that will radiate from you – the people you perform for, and with, will feel that too.
In today’s society, showing genuine consideration for other people is an amazing thing. Small acts and invisible shifts in priorities make a tremendous difference in how other people feel. Feeling valued and cared about is addictive – give that to the people around you, and you will be irresistible.
If you are committed to building a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, learn the five strategies for success in Concert University’s FREE webinar. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, please head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.
There’s a lot of talk these days about how dishonest our culture has become. People bandy about terms like fake news, spin, alternative facts. On a bad day, it can seem like people are willing to lie to anyone, about anything, just to gain some advantage. So, it’s no wonder that honesty is at such a premium. We’re all desperate for a little real talk, and we’re attracted to others who seem willing to cut through the crap and present the truth. But before we can be honest with others, we must be willing to be honest with ourselves – and that can be harder than it seems.
The Big Lie
Typically, when we say things like, “He’s living in a dream world,” or “She’s out of touch with reality,” what we’re really saying is that someone has deluded themselves into expecting the unreasonable, or believes that they are better, more successful, more important, than they really are.
However, the opposite tends to hold true for classical musicians. Many of us do live in a dream world, many of us are out of touch with reality – but the reality that we’re missing is how valuable our expertise actually is.
After years spent listening to expert teachers pick apart everything we do in order to help us improve, we’ve come to believe that this is how others experience our performance. We imagine a room full of people waiting for us to trip up, and then judging us harshly if we do. We forget that music is the language of emotion and that we are not only fluent at speaking it, but we are very likely the only expert in the room. Very rarely do we lie to ourselves by saying that we performed flawlessly; we tend to be brutally honest about our mistakes but we constantly lie about our victories. We disregard them; we undervalue them; sometimes we deny them entirely. This is the most dangerous kind of self-deceit.
Self-Deceit Causes a World of Hurt
As classical musicians, we are all passionate about classical music, about getting it back into the real world and using this language to communicate with people. Music helps people deal with challenges and emotions that they may not have realized they need to face. Your job as a professional musician is to make the world a better place by connecting with people using the language of music. That’s it. Not to play every note perfectly. Not to be lauded as the very best [insert your instrument here] there has ever been. To connect. To communicate. To improve. This is your mission.
How can you do that if you are lying to yourself about your abilities? You can’t. You’re too busy being self-protective and afraid of being found out. You’ve built a wall around yourself with a million tiny self-doubts and boulders of unworthiness – a wall of lies.
A Simple Exercise in Truth-Telling
We’ve become so conditioned to look for the bad and assume the worst that it can take some effort to learn to recognize everything we’re doing well and all we accomplish on a daily, even hourly basis.
Set a timer for an hour. At the end of that hour write down everything that went well. Not just everything that went well musically, but every little detail. Did you drink water without spilling it all over the floor? Write it down. Get through a measure without a massive mistake? Write it down. Learn to recognize what you do accomplish, not just where you slip. There are a lot of people who cannot do what you do, not only musically, but in everyday life. Chances are you have a lot of things worth celebrating.
Being realistic requires not only being honest about our opportunities for improvement but also our abilities.
If you’re interested in digging deeper into how to create a profitable and rewarding career as a performing classical musician, check out my free webinar on Concert University.
If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com to listen now.