All of these things I have done.
….and I am not a star.
They are the stupid things that have held me back. I have done them and am now listing them so you don’t have to.
I give you permission to use this list. Pin it on the wall next to your bathroom mirror and look at it every day. Make it your mission to memorise them and make sure you do the opposite of each and every one of them in your life if you wish to get to the top of your game.
They are in no particular order, just as they came to mind I jotted them down.
- I have been afraid that my songs weren’t good enough so I’ve hidden them from the public as I honed recordings to the “over-cooked” stage.
- I’ve gotten nervous on stage and as a result have not given my best to the audience. I was so afraid of being noticed by them that I only gave 50% thinking somehow that might be better than if I threw caution to the wind and gave it everything I’ve got. People who make it don’t leave anything for the swim back. (That’s a quote from the movie, Gattaca. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. Look at what people will do to get their goals.)
- I’ve constantly told people “I don’t expect to get famous or rich from it.” Do I believe that? Well, I’ve said it enough times to others that it plays as true in my head even though once upon a time I dared to dream.
- I’ve apologised for bad performances to the audience. Never apologise! I was told this rule early on and to this day I still ignore it on stage.
- I’ve let minor screw ups on stage make me feel small and unworthy and as a result I’ve choked and completely blown entire songs and then, sometimes, if I’m really beating myself up, I’ll let it screw up the rest of the set/gig.
- I’ve mumbled into microphones. I’ve gotten even more nervous about doing between song banter than I have about singing and as a result I’ve stumbled and mumbled, stuttered and squawked. I’ve told bad jokes badly, I’ve left dead air.
- I haven’t trusted that anyone can love my original songs.
- I’ve not bothered marketing myself in anyway. I make excuses not to. I figure I’m too old or I don’t have enough time, there’s no money in it and I can’t justify throwing money at it or going and playing gigs for no money when I obviously should be sitting on my arse watching Game of Thrones.
- I haven’t practiced or even picked up an instrument for more than three months at a time. I own a rehearsal studio. Four rooms with PA’s, nice acoustics. Amps are there, instruments are there. I could go in a room and shut the door and play all night and, given the nature of my work, sleep a fair bit of the next day to get over it. This does not happen. Well, it does but hardly ever.
- I’ve stopped writing songs. Sometimes years go by.
- I stopped doing free gigs. It’s been a very long time since I would consider playing at the opening of an envelope. When I did, I had lots of gigs. You know, doing that thing that drives my passion and my life. Now I have no gigs and no-one knows who the hell I am.
- I didn’t talk to anyone about my music or my brand. I never showed excitement in it to another. I never considered that anybody would give my material more than a “pity listen”. (I know they seem like harsh words. Have you ever had that thought cross your mind though and been afraid to say it, even to yourself?)
- I’ve watched other musicians/song writers and decided that they were better than me and have let this stop me from pursuing my own music instead of letting an audience decide what they like or dislike.
- I’ve shelved recordings because I could never be happy enough with how they sound or present my song/s.
- I’ve turned the volume down or turned off recordings of my music when others enter the room out of embarrassment.
- I’ve not been able to accept compliments on my music or my performance.
- Though I’ve met many people who could be considered as being able to advance my musical career, I have never called upon them for help.
- I’ve been too afraid to approach people in the industry to see if they would be interested in working with me and my music.
- I have acted like music was nothing more than a hobby to me.
- I have turned down opportunities to perform because they were too far away or in a place I didn’t want to travel to or were too late at night or I just couldn’t be bothered.
- I have felt that plugging in an amplifier or turning a PA on seemed like too much effort.
- I believed that perhaps fame wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. There were probably some down sides to it.
- I have convinced myself that I am too out of practice and that the road back to “match-fitness” is too long to warrant trying.
- I have believed that not trying something is better than failing at.
These are just some of the things I’ve done that have sabotaged my music career. There’s probably dozens more that I haven’t thought of or haven’t identified.
I have done all these things whilst bagging out others for doing the same. What’s worse is I’ve also bagged out others who haven’t done them and gone on to reach stardom just because somehow I’ve felt they weren’t worthy of it. The difference between them and me? They got off their arses and did it. I was jealous. I was envious. I was lazy.
The truth is that you can’t “fail” at something. You can only quit.
I guess at some point I quit. I’m not sure when it happened. As a teenager I was pretty sure I would take on the world. That I could be a star, have a household name, live the dream. Somewhere along the way I just stopped believing that and went about doing all the things that would make my belief that I couldn’t get there a reality. And sure enough I proved one thing. If you believe something, you can make it the truth. I believed I couldn’t do it. And that became the truth.
I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t do that. If, instead of losing my childhood naivete, that I kept my youthful exuberance? If I put some genuine passion and belief behind my music with an unwavering knowledge that sooner or later it would be successful? Where would I be now? How many people might know my name? How many records might I have sold? Maybe there’d be some little gold statuettes on my shelves. Maybe I’d be travelling the world. Maybe I’d be mobbed by adoring fans. Maybe I’d have some money, a nice house, a cool car. Maybe I’d be partying with those other people who just never gave up on their dreams. You know, the ones who have “made it”.
It isn’t about talent. It’s never been about talent. If talent was what it took, none of us would have heard of Justin Beiber. He doesn’t have “talent”. He has the belief that he deserves to be famous. He has the belief that he deserves to be loved by millions. He has taken that belief and then put the work in that was required to get the job done. Any one of us could do that but we rarely do.
So do you have that belief in yourself? Do you think that you deserve to be at the top or are you doing the same stupid things as I’ve been doing? If the latter, do you plan to change that or do you think that maybe it’s just too late/too hard/not possible?