There is no miracle cure, no magic bullet, no short cut, and no fast track to your desired future. There’s no artist manager, publicist, teacher, or coach who can magically transform your career. Spoiler alert: your Fairy Godmom has left the building.
Even when we ‘know’ all this, we still imagine that there’s a fast-track. We tell ourselves, “It shouldn’t have to be this hard,” or “It’s so unfair.”
We read about celebrity artists’ lives and envy them, thinking they have it easy. But that’s the media fantasy machine in action. And our all too fragile egos falling for it.
You don’t have to scrape very deep to find that an artist’s seemingly glitch-free journey came with setbacks, heartaches, and failures along the way.
And that celebrated artists all have to work hard at it. Present tense.
This means, even when you’ve achieved goals, the work doesn’t let up. It’s not as through it’s ‘won and done’ and suddenly you’re confident and happy, and things come easily for you.
In fact, high achievers often report that the fears and struggles actually intensify over time because it now seems they have a lot more on the line, and further to fall.
Still, we like to imagine that others have an easier time of it. We tell ourselves so-and-so has more natural talent, or they have more support, had better teachers, better instruments, that they had an easier childhood, or at least that they don’t have to live in our shoes.
Self-pity creeps in. And we—on some level—cut ourselves slack. We back off from the challenges we set and fail on the follow through. We unknowingly create our own upper limits instead of being ‘all in.’
Note: I’m using ‘we’ here because I’ve done all this myself and more.
So let’s just get real: we all have our demons. They’re part of the package.
Instead of believing in magic bullets, leprechauns, and short cuts, here’s the truth. What you really get in life. What we ALL have is:
The opportunity to do the necessary hard work that’s worth doing. To take the scary creative risks and make our art. It’s the opportunity to do your own work — the work only you can do.
Day in and day out.
You may be thinking: Yeah. I know. I’m a musician: I practice every day.
No: I’m not talking about just putting in the hours.
Practicing on auto-pilot doesn’t get you anywhere. Going through the motions, staying in our comfort zones. Being satisfied or resigned to the level of our artistry ‘as is’ doesn’t move you ahead.
It’s something else entirely to commit to a daily practice of laser focus on specific goals we hold ourselves accountable for. To record and listen objectively, to find challenges and new solutions. So that at the end of each practice session you know what you’ve done and you see and hear the progress you’ve made.
And if the challenges include mindset issues (and they usually do) then that needs to be part of your mental training practice as well. Whatever’s getting in your way needs to be addressed. By you. Get the help you need, but do the work.
Of course, your career depends on more than practicing. If you want to get more freelance work or find more private students, what are the actions you need to take? If you want to perform that new program you’ve dreamt up, what do you need to do to get those bookings?
If you’re serious about your career, what are the 3 action steps you’ll commit to this week?
Not three gigantic or impossible steps, but three necessary and do-able ones. Action steps that you place in your calendar, and designate specific time for doing and completing this week. Hold yourself accountable.
Would you send 3 emails to reconnect with contractors or conductors you’ve worked with before? Would you send introductory emails to local schools to offer a guest master class, coaching, or sectional? Would you draft a booking inquiry email and show it to a trusted mentor before sending?
High achieving musicians set goals, make plans, and do the work. They follow up and follow through.
What does it take? You need to commit to being committed.
In fact, there’s a terrific blog post on just this topic from the fabulous Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, authors of The Tools and Coming Alive. If mindset has been getting in your way—I recommend these books!
It’s easy to find yourself and your career in a kind of “holding pattern.” Where maybe you’re not exactly stalled, but you’re not moving forward with the projects that matter most. Whether you reach out to a mentor, a coach, or a good friend, find someone this week you can talk it through with. Not someone you’re living with but someone with a little distance and perspective to offer. Do some creative brainstorming.
Leave the fantasies by the road and be honest about the work you need to do that’s most worth doing. I’m rooting for you!
If you’d like to have a conversation about your goals and career plans, and how coaching might help you get past whatever’s been holding you back, let’s schedule a time to talk! Reach me at Angela@BeyondTalentConsulting.com.