Not Every Band Is Meant To Be The Biggest In The World

I often talk to musicians who are stalling in putting their songs or albums out because they don’t think the material will be heard by enough people. Or, they are afraid that upon release they’ll have to take the project to a big time level. Perhaps they think doing something cool is enough, but they feel they’ll be judged by others, for you know, not becoming “successful” with their work.

As a side note, success is relative and personal. If you start a project and stay on course to finish it, that is already a level of success.

But, in regards to the above, it’s a mental trap. The truth is that not every band’s goal is to be the biggest band in the world. There are numerous one or two member groups that put out great music out there through the internet for the sake of being creative. Many of them don’t even play shows.

There is nothing wrong with starting a band to take on the world and become the next Metallica and there is nothing wrong with releasing an EP for the sake of getting the songs out of your head and into the universe. You can set your own goals for success and follow them as much as you care to. Your songs, your band, your life. That’s enough.

Some of my favorite bands never became “big” or mostly went under the radar. There is coolness in being the underdog, too.

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Give Advice To Yourself As If You Were Giving It To Your Best Friend

You know what’s funny about us humans? We love to give our best advice to others, but we often think we don’t know what to do for ourselves. But, here’s the thing – we usually do know what to do. You know what you’re doing right, what you need to change or where you’re slacking. Generally, if we get quiet, we can figure that stuff out if we are being honest with ourselves.

Here’s the deal – sometimes you gotta talk to yourself, your own voice might be the most intelligent thing you hear all day. What would you tell your best friend who was facing the same challenge as you are? Ok, great. Now, go follow that advice.

Outlast The Temporary

Sometimes when things don’t go our way, or we have to do something we don’t want to do, it might seem to us, that we are forever doomed. It’s a loss of perspective. When we are stuck in traffic – it feels like it’ll never end. When we have to learn a new skill – it feels like it’ll take a lifetime. When we get a flat tire – it can feel like we’ll never get back on that road again. We know it’s not true, but our mind exaggerates.

I always remind myself that the success is in outlasting the challenge. Most everything we know has an end. All we have to do is to remind ourselves to outlast the temporary thorn and then all will be ok on the other side.

See if that small shift in mindset can work for you!

Are You Ever Too Old To Learn An Instrument?

Here is your answer – No. You’re never too old to learn anything, including a guitar. Applying yourself to learn an instrument has nothing to do with your age, but rather with how much time you have (or, rather allow) to practice. Not everyone will be Eddie Van Halen, but with proper instruction and time put in you can get playing.

Your boss at work, or your customers don’t care if you play the guitar, golf or like to fish. As an adult life brings more challenges, people feel they can’t really commit to playing. 20 minutes every 3rd day is not going to do it, even if you had the talent of Eddie. I have seen some of my younger students get incredibly good at a guitar in rather short period of time. Their advantage was having the focus and time to sit at the guitar and play it for 5 hours plus a day.

I started to play the guitar late, I think at 15-16. Most of my friends were much better than me. Ok, all of my friends were better than me. But, I have put an immense amount of practice during my High School years (Read: no time at the beach, no hanging out, no parties) and most of them were not even in the running by the beginning of my Junior year.

I also mentioned this before, but I never met anyone whose fingers were too short, too long, too stubby to play the guitar. That excuse does not exist.

So, how much time do you need to get some decent playing in? If you can dedicate honest 30-45 minutes 6 days a week, you would have made a great progress in 3 months. This will be enough to play several songs, melodies and most likely even write your own stuff. If playing an instrument is important to you, often times you have to give up on other things to find the time. For adults, it’s a game of priorities and time management and figuring out what’s important.

I also believe that we should all carve out at least 1 hour every day to do the stuff we love to do. It’s necessary. Otherwise, life becomes a boring box you live it.

Write Tasks Down

You know that feeling where you have so much going on that you don’t know where to put your hands first? Yeah, we all do.

I find it very useful to get stuff out of my head and onto a paper. Want to get some things done over the weekend? Write them out on Friday. For whatever reason, when we see things written down, our brains assume them important and less breakable. This just steers your mind into a direction we need. In an odd way, you don’t even need to go over your “list” over the weekend, just the process of writing things you want to do makes them so much more probable to get done.

Side note about stuff “written in”. Did you ever buy a car and a dealer takes out the purchase agreement and you see a “Document and Paperwork Fee” already printed onto the document? This happens for a reason. Buyers are less likely to argue something that is already in print. Dealer fee is a way for the company to pay for the clerks in the back that are an expense for them. Clerks do not sell, but someone has to file stuff, so you guessed it – you are asked to pay for it. This is also one of the reasons why contractors like to give you quotes in writing and not verbally – you’re less likely to negotiate. That is, if you are not privy to the info above.

Write it down.

Your Heroes Don’t Have All The Answers

They don’t. While the people we look-up to, or even idolize, might have found a way to become admirable at a task be it sports, music, photography, engineering, design, teaching, sales and so on, remember that in order to become exceptionally world-class good at something, we often in the process give up on developing other important parts of life. This varies of course from person to person. The people you admire don’t always have all the answers. This is why I sometimes find it interesting that general public expects sports stars, as an example, to be all around role models. Many genuinely are, and for a good reason. But, careful with your expectations. It takes a certain personality to give up literally everything in order to achieve a task that most only dream of. I’ve met several successful people in their various chosen professions who couldn’t inflate a tire or hold a half-decent conversation. I am not not faulting you, me or anyone else – we are all work in progress. Just take above into consideration.

Instagram Is A Poetic Editor’s Reel

Internet and social media can be a powerful and positive tool. But, I don’t think humans were ready for it. I think of social media and cell phone cameras as the ultimate mirror for humanity to see themselves. It’s a big photo dump of where we are as a world population. It’s a way for the universe to turn the mirror onto us and show us what and who we are.

But, for today, perhaps on a less heavy note, I wanted to remind you that Instagram is like a big director’s reel. What you see is the best version of someone’s life, or “achievements” and it is full of poetic quotes from people who have no business posting anything of the sort. Not everyone is at the best party, not everyone is crushing it, not everyone … well, you get the idea. Enjoy the pages that bring good things into your life and don’t waste your time with the posers. Instagram, for the most part, is not real life.

Fear, Resilience & Doubt

This is a big post and one that resonates with me a lot. It has to do with the biggest dream killer of all – FEAR. Now, I have been on a quest dissecting fear and how humans react to it for a few years now. This subject took a lot of my attention. Today, I am going to make my findings simple.

Every human being experiences fear. Fear is primal and it is built into us so we can survive and not get into life threatening situations. Feelings of fear are there to protect you. We often think that professional musicians, athletes, dare devils, CEOs or celebrities don’t experience fear and that’s why they are able to do the things they do. That’s incorrect – everyone experiences fear. Here is the kicker – there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. You are supposed to feel it.

Read this again. Fear is natural. Expect to feel it. It shows up as a motherly word of caution. When you do anything outside of what’s comfortable to you right now – you will meet fear.

However, on the other side of fear in the same wrestling ring is doubt. This is where the business end comes in. Fear shows up to the party, but doubt lives in you. Doubt is where your sword is hidden. You have to decide whether you have the goods to perform so well that you have little “doubt” that you’ll do well at a task. It can be anything – playing a live show with a band, giving a speech, taking someone on a date.

When I perform live in front of many people, I have a fearful tingling in my stomach, but my doubt is very small in that I can perform well in front of an audience. This is because I have done the work to prepare. I showed up, worked, prepared and stayed the course that I outlined. I know that I won’t let myself down. I have done this successfully before and I’ll make sure that I will do it well, again. With this mental prep, I face any fear of standing in front of hundreds or thousands of people.

As a side note, I think it it important to know that people feel different levels of fear. For me, standing in front of people was never a nerve wracking issue and it isn’t for most rock musicians. But, I might experience deeper fear in areas that are easy to overcome for others. With that said, I never just get up there and play. I go through a small process.

Returning to our blog, please know that if you don’t keep your commitments to yourself, you saw doubt that lives deep inside you and you’re letting down the most important ally you might ever have. Having strong doubts makes fear impossible to face. You have to slay the doubt that you won’t come up short on yourself, and this can only be done by keeping your word and staying comitted to the things you feel are important to you.

Doubt gets squashed by self-dependence and by self-reassurance. In short, you must know and believe that you won’t let yourself down, and even if things don’t work out as planned, you can figure out a way to hang in there.

Now, between Fear and Doubt lies Resilience. Resilience is like an elastic band that will allow you to spring back into shape, to recover quickly. Resilience is the power to stay looking at the scary task while your fear is telling you to run away. It is the belief that you’ll get control back and survive the task. This is a huge part for people. It’s a big issue for humanity in general.

Fear is a bully with no friends. Your resilience comes with a new pal of no doubt.

See, we have to think of individual parts when we go face to face with something that scares us. Remember, fear is to be expected. It shows up, it is just a warning buzzer that everyone gets. It has no control. It is supposed to be there. Your doubt, on the other side of the table has to extinguished and you have feel self assured, self reliant and know that no matter what – you won’t let yourself down and won’t give up on yourself. Can you honestly feel that about yourself? If you show up for yourself, doubt will have no hold on you. I say you have to be armed with no doubt, sword in hand.

Resilience is the middle man. It’s the rubber band that pulls you back to face the initial fear while you are armed with no doubt that you will handle the task. Read the last sentence, again. Resilience is the glue. If you don’t have the glue of resilience in-between fear and doubt – you won’t cross the bridge to give fear the returning eye. Use it and remember it. That’s how you face the most powerful, yet, most powerless force in the world.

I believe we can say that when you are planted with resilience and armed with no doubt in you having your own back, you are utilizing Courage to face the fear. Sometimes even knowing these words helps us tremendously. It helps us frame what we need to call on. Most of us feel fear and just run away with hands in the air. But, we are not scared of the fear – we are scared of our self-doubt. Good news is that when aware of this we can work on fortifying our abilities, remember difficult situations we’ve overcome in the past and lessen the doubt – so we can combat what scares us. It might be a long road, but at least we can start taking the problem apart and make progress. Even armed with the info here it is not easy.

As a book mark to end this post, when someone goes through the process outlined above time and time again successfully, you can say the person has developed Confidence. They have a good track record by now, and are confident that they’ll do it again. This is a true confidence built on tangible results and personal wins and not a cocky attitude of all looks and no hooks. Big difference.

Disaster, Or Inconvenience?

I came across a very useful way of thinking about an issue that might arise.

When something comes up that is troubling, I think it is very useful to decide whether the new situation is a disaster, or an inconvenience. As humas, we tend to react harshly to anything that is troubling and disrupts our day. But, I don’t think everything warrants the same level of attention, or upset.

When you get a flat tire – ask yourself whether it is a disaster, or an inconvenience. When you go to the store and they run out of milk – ask yourself whether it is a disaster, or an inconvenience. When someone forgets to call you back with information you are waiting for – ask yourself whether it is a disaster, or an inconvenience. You will see that most of the things that happen to us are just inconveniences that we have to take care off – they are not disasters that you have to lose your mind over. I think it is super helpful to keep things in perspective.

Put Fear Behind Instead Of In Front Of You

I would like to share a very powerful exercise on reframing fear. As I say, fear is “imaginary” until it appears and paralizes you. It can, and often does, happen to everyone at one point or another.

Now, for most, fear is something that looms ahead that is the “scary boogieman” that stops you from doing somethig. We all felt it. But, what “if” you take that fear of not doing the thing you are scared off and imagine the worst case scenario if you do NOT do it.

Let’s say, you’re afraid of joining the gym because you are afraid of commitment of going regularly, having to change your lifestyle, not knowing what you’re doing and having people stare at you while you figure out what exercise to start with. Now, all of these things can be worked on and changed, I guarantee you, but while they loom in the distance, they can appear difficult and scary.

Now, let’s put that fear behind you. Take a piece of paper out and write the things are can happen while you do not follow through and stay where you are.

Here are some examples.

  1. You stay sedentary and inactive.
  2. Your health suffers.
  3. You feel bad about yourself.
  4. Because you feel bad about yourself, you go out less and your diet is terrible.
  5. You are burdened by regret for not starting and feel terrible about the place you’re in.

Now, if you take this list and put it behind you to drive you – this can be very powerful. If you do at some level would like to join a gym, then you are also adding a “want” to this list. Now, we have a fear behind us driving us and a want pulling us forward. These are 2 great allies that when joined together can really provide some serious breakthrough power. I hope you’ll find this helpful.