Expecting success to come quickly is a flaw of mine that most often leads to dejection, giving up, not starting in the first place, or general malaise.
Once I decide to actually go after something – to really give it a shot – if I’m not an immediate success, I’m ready to throw in the towel.
It’s a downward spiral too. The worse I perceive my lack of success, the worse I feel, and the less I want to do that isn’t related to eating lots of sugar.
Most adults should know that there is no such thing as an overnight success. You probably have realized at this point that instead success is a long, slow climb.
Success in music is no different (other than the climb might be steeper)!
I remember when I first started pitching songs. It seemed to take forever to land music in a spot with any real consistency.
But I kept at it. And kept looking for patterns.
And started improving.
One of the keys to doing this was to redefine success.
In other words, instead of beating myself up for not hitting a goal, I would adjust that goal. Instead of trying to get songs on a commercial, I would try to get ANY response from someone.
I’d celebrate any response from a brief hello, to a music search to a “get the hell outta here you crazy person!” (luckily I never got one of those).
Once you shift your focus something amazing happens. You start to feel good.
Feeling good helps to give you more energy, work a little more, and try to be better.
Then all of a sudden those little steps you’ve taken add up, and you get a BIG win.
At that point, it’s time to eat cupcakes and dance.
So next time…
When you start to beat yourself up for under-achieving, re-evaluate.
Have you made some small step that you haven’t properly acknowledged?
Your state of mind can sometimes be the only limiting factor in how big of a success you are.
I’d love to hear how you have achieved some small success in the comments!
Robert Allen says
I’m a strong believer in success being how you define it. I agree with you that small things can add up to something substantial. All too often we’re our worst enemies.
I’ve enjoyed reading your blog the last few months but today is different as I feel compelled to comment.
You’re absolutely spot on! It’s amazing what the “power of positive thinking” will do for us music-minded people when we’re able to redefine our sense of success & motivate ourselves with all the good that’s happening (and there is always plenty of good to inspire).
I can speak from my experience as an artist who tends to get down when I feel like things aren’t going the way I think they should or in a timely manner. I find when I focus on the small successes, as you mention, my positive state of mind makes far more productive – and almost always equals more small successes – which as you say leads to bigger successes. I don’t have much to add/critique about your position, other than that I fully agree. I understand the artists/music professionals plight and I too am discovering that a general positive attitude & focused diligence tends to yield better results no matter how big or small.
Keep up the good work, thanks for your insights, and all the best to you.
Super post Andy.
Getting noticed by the music industry is like trying to saw through a steel pie with a plastic spoon!
I finally decided to write and sing because I love it and if anyone else enjoys it that’s great.
I still have the dream but the reality sucks…seems everyone and his dog is now in the music industry/business
on some level. If I ever do get a break at my age I’ll have to dance slow and eat sugar-free cupcakes, lol (-:
Thanks for the note Josh – and keep it up!
Yup – we’re REAL hard on ourselves almost all of the time. Thanks for commenting!
Hahaha – funny! Keep up the hard work!
Hi Andy, I needed this reminder today — I am usually not one to credit tiny baby steps. But I am making some baby steps that I SHOULD give myself credit for — I’m meeting with a possible duo partner on Sat., and I am finally practicing guitar standing up (if those of you who can play guitar can remember back to when you were learning, it is a whole different ballgame to play sitting down vs. playing standing up.) I’m also working on my songwriting nearly every day and getting some good stuff down, so yay me!
Tiny baby steps are the only steps! Big steps happen in little pieces.
Keeira Lyn Ford says
I have enjoyed plenty of “successes” in my career over my life but it never feels like enough in my mind. Just yesterday a friend told me, “Wow you’ve had a great year this year!” and started listing the things I’ve done (going to Germany to film a tv show, singing the anthem for NASCAR on ESPN, filming my full production music video, singing on ABC with LeAnn Rimes, etc.) I had to stop and pat myself on the back, which I usually forget to do because I’m too busy trying to gain the next achievement. I guess what I’m sayin is I have had some success and I need to remember that. Even though I feel the need to push harder and do better, I have to give myself credit for what I have accomplished. And yes, my music does make me want to punch myself in the face. Mostly for the shady people I encounter, the broken promises, the lack of direction or structure and the fear of the unknown.
Keeira – That is some awesome success – and it’s definitely good to recognize it. Wanting to grow, do more, and be better is a natural thing so it’s no surprise you keep getting after the next bit of work.
As long as you’re rewarding yourself in healthy ways, I say keep it up!