For the month of April, my blog topic was “failure.” How ironic, I failed at writing anything on this topic until now. Everywhere I look, failure has become a badge of honor. “Fail quick and often.” “It’s better to fail at something you love, than not to try at all.” Even – “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
I get failure – a failed audition, a failed class or a failed relationship are all a part of my path. But failure is not a part of my vocabulary. I don’t see the inability to complete a task, a plan and effort in business, as a fail. In mid-stream, ideas flow in another direction. Choices to recover or save a project are the natural way to run a business. Like risk, failure can be planned out.
In the month of April, I haven’t allowed failure to focus me. I have been making plans and taking steps – the topic for May. I can bypass failure by making plans and taking steps in the direction of my goals. That’s all I do and I think I am in a pretty good place. With the help of others – I keep moving ahead.
Being Thin-skinned is not a recommended or appropriate attribute for any professional adult. Crying, withholding information, the silent treatment and passive aggressive behavior are but a few ways women reveal their thin skin, says author Dr. Lois P Frankel. Whether you are a musician who has heard a few, “thank you, don’t call us, we’ll call you…” Or someone who has made a mid-life career change or you are mom whose teenage angel just turned witchy. It’s OK. It’s your process of the event that will reveal your self with thin or thicker skin.
My go-to response when thrown a curve is to let it sit. I don’t judge, react or take action until I can sort out my view. Then, I move into an appropriate response. The answers to questions that address my values, feelings, time, self-respect and a suitable behavior should dictate my move. Do we sometimes get hit so hard that we cry? Yes – don’t worry, it happens. But should I continue whining about it or use pity to get me way? Of course not.
We have people in our lives who want us to be brave. Punching someone is not brave. Back stabbing and blackballing is not brave. Taking time and thickening my skin is brave. This is what I have learned about myself. My skin is getting thicker.
Today, I am writing down my business plan for a 2nd adventure. I have read many books and today I step over the great crevasse of fear to put my own words into the universe. What a quiet thrill to see my future ignite before me. Failure is possible….or not. That is why I do it!
I share this because I know in business, fun, faith, music, life – we are all connected. I need your encouragement and hope my ideas will encourage you. Not encouragement in the form of a phone call or pat on the back. But as an accountability. If I post a goal out for all to see, I am starting the clock to make it work. So here I go!
To follow a dream is to express myself. I acknowledge the possibility of failure in its outcome but I don’t consider taking a leap of faith as failure. If a project fails, stalls or succeeds, I count it all as a learning experience. I do believe we need to feel the feelings of failure in order to understand our ability. When I succeed, failure is still a central part of it. It is my comparison, my reference. As I teach students to sing, I also let them know the risks, highs and lows. But “risk” is another post topic.
Your work is not too much for you to handle. Take it one step at a time. Today, I began by finding the right pickaxe, the right latter and then I took 1 step after another. That 1 step is success.
Recently I joined the Pikes Peak Arts Council Board of Directors to connect and see a different angle of the arts organizations in Colorado Springs. So far so good.
I am passing on 2 Collab Ops to you today is hopes that it will inspire you to connect with other artists. Art, music, business, life…. are all better based in a relationship. Use these 2 Ops to start a relationship with not only other creatives, but within yourself.
1. Link: http://pikespeakartscouncil.org/event-1918414
Creatives Class – A class next Thursday which is a partnership between the Pikes Peak Arts Council & the COS Small Business Development Center.
I will attend because I like connecting with other creatives, business people and want to know the best way to make a living at this thing.
2. Link: http://pikespeakartscouncil.org/join
Join PPAC – I want to pass on to you the opportunity to get connected, receive info about events, arts, micro loans and opportunities. This is not an expensive commitment. Please check it out.
This week I am in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel. I am sharing a room with Kathryn, a wonderfully progressive piano teacher from Hollywood, CA and a regular member of this event for 50 years.
When musicians get together at an even like this, we remember that our lives are more then student after student, required repertoire and hurried or late dinners. We remember that we started this profession with hope and excitement, wanting to teach the next generation of great musicians. Some of us started teaching because we were born to. And others out of a need to find themselves.
In any case, we gather here this week to find something that will ignite, renew or keep our lives going. The Vegas lights and bling will not be the most captivating feature. I am looking for the inner heart that will be found and renewed in so many of us.
Why do we perform? Why do we put ourselves on the spot, sweat, combat a dry throat and risk forgetting foreign words? Because in some secret way, we are adrenaline junkies. And we live for the thrill of the performance. I tell students, the only way we can get over the fear….AND learn to love the rush of the moment, is to put themselves in the light.
That place we go when we perform is a special place. A zone. A tunnel. A field of wheat on the hillside. Whatever it is for you, it must be a place you go to find the magic of who you are as a performer. Wait, did I just call it “magic?” Yes. I use this word because that is what it is. And if I jump right to words like “life changing” or “freaking amazing zone of constant euphoria” – it might be a bit much. But really, that is what it is.
What lies behind the Musicians Only door is both glamorous and not glamorous at the same time. There are some days I enter the door with a heavy sigh and some days I am light on my feet. But every time I enter that door, I enter with every passionate musician in my heart. And I step onto the stage to connect with anyone who comes to hear me sing. That is why….
Such a harmless word, all lower case letters, humps and curves. If it desires, music, has the power to cut through the soul of every single person. music ignites a cold space within where a flame once roared with passion. Some days, I think music is a friend. I have been seduced by music as if she were a beautiful Italian woman enjoying gelato on a sunny afternoon. And I have been discarded by music as if he were a foe, taking me deeper and deeper into the guilt of not practicing enough as I suffer through a German choral piece. Either friend or foe, I know this relationship will go on. I know I have to make a choice each day to grab the handle on the music train or call it quits.
Music – seductress, knife or gentle friend, it is none and all of these things at once. It is a mode of enjoyment, employment, strife and bliss. One thing I know for sure, music is no respecter of persons. It can only be its own element, curving its way through the lives, and concert halls, and memorial services of anyone who dare invite it in. I know I must allow music to be. To live and to burn. And I must summon it in so I can continually become the person I am to truly be.
Beethoven believed that, “music is mediator between spiritual and sensual life.” And Debussy, “I wish to sing of my interior visions with the naive candor of a child.” Both of these composers fought to release the music within them to to world. We all negotiate, beguile, ignore, test and sometimes trick what we believe to be a piece of paper containing notes, rhythms and tempo suggestions. I may believe music is no respecter of persons, but it is a living thing that is moving even now. I doesn’t need to respect, but I must – in order to live.
On my refrigerator I keep a quote from a wise human. By wise, I mean studied, experienced and fearless in life’s action even though he was afraid. It reads, “Stop worrying about whether you’re effective or important, Worry about what is possible for you to do, Which is always much greater than you imagine!” This statement or call is both huge and humbling but exact in its ability to inspire.
The idea of focusing on what I can do each day to effect the world and those around me seems like an authentic approach to being my best self. But doesn’t my culture expect me to conjure up some impact that I am not gifted to give? Exactly…. When I take a moment to calmly think about what my gift is and then offer that – I offer 100% of myself and rest 100% in that offering. I don’t have to carry around the tired virtue of guilt – or settle into a self-defeating spirit. I can walk humbly knowing that I am impacting the world (song) with my unique call (voice).
Another important voice in my life asks, “Do we waste time when we try to be effective rather than faithful?” What if we carry with us the gift we have and offer it simply? What if we can be present in a lesson or meeting, with a friend, in a rehearsal or event. My effort is transformed into a faithful presence which makes a big impact. Consider not just stabbing the dark with a cause. Consider your faithful presence – it is enough.
When an artist speaks her voice into the world, she does it in an effort to stay alive. To be alive, ignite her true self and connect the inner flame to the outer world. This is what I call “voice” and “song.” The voice within the artist and the song it produces in the world.
When an artist expresses himself in an effort to change the status quo – impact – make ripples in the still water… he may do so with the idea that he is contributing to the larger picture. But what if what he says is “the” point? What if what she sings “changes” everything? And what if that impact causes violence? Let me tell you, the artist thought it through and spoke it anyway.
It is his voice.
Let art shape you – not frustrate you. Let art inspire you to step into the cause it is pointing to – don’t get mad at the artist. Let art be the catalyst and you…the hero.