PA few weeks ago I posted a Blog about Commitment (Are You Commitment Phobic?). In my conversation about Commitment I also talked about how most people in addition to side-stepping Commitment, resist Completion too. It seems that it's a human dilemma.Is it the stars in our eyes like this little pooch here?
Probably, because, left to our own illustrious fantasies, we'd be famous overnight, win J.Lo's approval and become the next American Idol, or become a purpose-driven cooler-than-heck rockstar who changes the world in one year's time (reasonable amount of time -no?).
But without the power of Completion we procrastinate, crawl under the covers, suck our thumbs and wonder why our vision of ourselves does not match reality. We have the best of intentions!? and talent to boot!
My big sister is the Editor and Publisher of a weekly newspaper in Telluride, CO, The Telluride Watch with her husband Seth. For the past 21 years, their lives have revolved around deadlines. One of my younger sisters is a healer. She sets her own hours (like me) and her work is all self-motivated. I fall somewhere in between but more and more appreciate deadlines, and I find, while stressful, are actually easier to function under and a ton more content gets created and a ton more people get served.
A deadline at least forces you to deliver whether or not you think it's good enough it has to be, you're under deadline. So I've learned the power in finishing- it makes for progress and longer term, for better work.
Because when you force yourself to deliver you exercise a different muscle the muscle of Completion. Finishing is a skill and it is perhaps the key to writing great songs or hit songs and really making a career for yourself. At the ASCAP Conference last April in LA, I heard Josh Kear/songwriter (Before He Cheats/ Carrie Underwood, Need You Now/Lady Antebellum) say that the biggest thing you could do as a songwriter is to finish your songs. Maybe you don't have the skillset to finish that song the way you need, but if you write 30-40 more songs, then suddenly you know how to finish them. Write a BUNCH of songs and FINISH them even if you don't love them because then you have finished songs. One of the hardest disciplines to learn is to finish. Starting a song is simple, you've got an idea, the first verse and chorus will come fast and then you hit that wall. Sometimes you don't finish it at all. Part of the habit of becoming a professional songwriter is learning how to finish. But in the early stages finishing doesn't mean it has to be great you just have to finish the song and then write another one and another one and another one(listen to Josh talk about it on the ASCAPExpo videos from 2011, The Hitmakers Cookbook: Recipes for Success at 60:00 at www.ascap.com (look for the link to purchase the vids from the 2011 conference way worth the price).
Another way we resist Completion is to not finish projects or agreements. One of my past students, Shawna was a very talented girl. She had a beautiful voice, and effervescent bubbly spirit, and a knack for writing rhyming lyrics. When she first came to me, her voice was weak and she had no clue how to put her career together. During our 9 months together we created a powerful singing voice, co-wrote 6 songs, developed her performance and stage presence, built her confidence and got off to a great start. However, just as we started to make progress, she stopped coming unfortunately for her because we were JUST getting started, there was so much left to do. One of her problems was that she had money issues. She had a terrible habit of paying late (none of my students pay late, it's not professional and I am teaching them responsibility), but she was always promising she would get up to speed, and I took her at her word, but she never did. When she called me to let me know she had other plans, she said the reason was mainly financial, and it's not that I don't believe her, but it was what she chose to spend her money on that was sapping her dry. Every week she came in with new clothes, new hair and one time even talking about her vacation, what she didn't realize is, that it was blaringly clear where her bigger commitment was. She, like many others, was caught up with the idea of stardom, got distracted by the bright shiny objects, the allure of the lights, instead of the real work. But the truth is, careers happen by doing the work, investing in one's career and building relationships with people in the business. From her vantage point and lack of experience, she didn't realize. It's okay, I've been there that's the only way I learned. Hopefully she will. Either way, it's too bad she doesn't realize the mistake she's making. Karma's a bee-aa-tch.
You see, what makes someone successful has as much to do with their personality, their integrity, intelligence-smarts, self-perception and awareness, ability to grow good relationships, loyalty, their own personal growth and choices they make as it does their talent. It's the truth. Ask anyone in the industry and they'll say the same thing. And people in the business can see it, smell it. No one wants to do business with someone who has trouble with commitment or completion or is a fair weather kind of person.
If you are one of those people who flit about from person to person in the industry and you don't build relationships it's kind of not your fault, at first. Lots of people have a tendency to do that thinking the next person will be the one to make their career turn out but it doesn't work.Because it isn't other people that make your career happen, it's you, the way you conduct yourself and the choices you make. And the industry is waaay too small Many times I've seen it come back around and slam people in the face, it's happened to me too. There you are, ready to sign a deal and someone that you blew off (who is friends with the label) gives you thumbs down and bam there it goes, down the river. It can happen all the time.
I'm also not saying to stay in a relationship that isn't working either, because I see a lot of artists doing that too. Working with people who are promising the moon but can't deliver or are taking them down the wrong road. And even if you've made mistakes in the past, it's okay as long as you learn, grow and change. People will respect you when you do. You have to use your smarts.
But once you find a true mentor, guidance, support, someone who can take you there someone who cares enough about who you are as well as your talent, someone who is as serious about your career as you are then be smart enough to know it and value it. Work with them, stay in touch with them, nurture your relationship because when you are ready, they'll be there to open doors for you.
The Your Professionally Fit List for the Music Biz:
- Keep Your Word. When you give your word, keep it for YOU. Do what you say you're going to do and you will not only be empowered, others will knock down the door to work with you.
- Build Relationships don't Break them. A great relationship is built over time. People work with people they know, like and trust. Don't be so quick to jump ship it could be you who's not ready.
- Keep your Commitments, you will be tested.
- Be Good at Completion. Finish projects, finish songs, do your work, that's what becoming a professional musician is all about.
- Respect Your Money. Every artist today who is successful, invests in their own career. Learning how to handle money and respecting your financial interactions is important. You are building or breaking your reputation by the way you do business.
- Get a pair of Sunglasses with Stars like your BFF dog toy above, to remind yourself when you're full of it!
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