10 Life Lessons Learned on Stage
Apr 16, 2018
I've earned my living from playing music on stages large and small. Sometimes for festival audiences of thousands, sometimes to the sound of one fan clapping in a small club. Along the way, I learned a few lessons that inspire and inform other life endeavors. Here are my top 10 lessons learned from the stage that apply to living the good life.
Serve the song, don't make the song serve you. Your best work comes when you are present and generous and not attached to a self-serving outcome or agenda.
- You don't work music, you play it. The point of work worth doing is not to "win," but to be able to keep "playing the game."
- Music is a language and languages are for communicating, connecting, and collaborating. Knowing what your work is for is essential to doing it well. Dial in the motivation, intention, and aspiration of your work and keep it top of mind as you proceed.
- Music is a collaboration, not a competition. Self-expression is very different than selfish expression. Serving the song means that while you are being you, you are also supporting others' ability to do the same.
- When you solo, you should have something to say and the ability to say it well. When you stand up to be seen and speak up to be heard, share something worth the time and attention. Do this often.
- Practice doesn't make perfect, but it does make prepared (and progress). Once you've identified work worth developing and delivering, dedicate yourself to doing so daily.
- The hardest part about practicing is sitting down to practice. Commit to a 1-minute daily discipline to build a daily habit of developing your craft.
- Be you, cover bands are boring. Your domain is cluttered up with cheap copies. We don't need more work that meets spec and serves the status quo. We need you.
- Passion is a result of purposeful playing. Passion isn't a reason to do work, it's a result of doing meaningful work.
- We are all musicians. Everyone responds to music's rhythm and is capable of humming a tune. Stop hiding your talent. Instead, embrace it and share it.
“Love the humble art you have learned and take rest in it.” - Marcus Aurelius
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A Little Pamphlet About a Creative Approach to Professional Problems
What do you fear most in the work you do? Failure, inadequacy, irrelevance, obscurity, poverty? Perhaps it's "all the above."
Your work is fraught with challenges, uncertainty, and obstacles that are beyond your control. But you do control the most important asset required to thrive in any situation or circumstance. What asset is that?
Your mindset. The way you perceive "the game."
Learn how to find possibility within challenges, options within uncertainty, and opportunities within obstacles.
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