Patience, Trust & Progressing Wisely
I’ll start by saying - if you did Kung Fu with me, you’ll have seen the title for this blog before. “Patience, Trust, & Progressing Wisely” was a section of theory we were required to understand at one of the levels. To have patience with yourself and trust your instructor to teach you only what you should know at that level or promote you to the next level when they felt you were ready was important. I’ve heard stories that it wasn’t always easy for everyone, but for me it was never an issue. I focused all my energy at that time on working hard, trying to perfect my art, and progress just came as a result. I didn’t focus on a promotion. When they happened, I generally felt like it was well earned, but not entitled by any means. I just loved what I was doing and dedicated each day to getting better. It literally was my life.
I find myself recalling these ideas this week as we complete our first tour as a band. I feel the same way about music, though it is not as simple as just playing well. It’s about the show, networking, marketing, being a web designer, and so on... There are a lot of elements that have to be in place and if one is not strong enough, then the act cannot move forward. I am not stuck in the future, thinking only of where we might be one day. I thoroughly enjoy the journey we are on. When John joined the band, I told him “every show is the most important show you’ve ever done, and then none of them matter.” In this way, you give everything to the present moment as it is happening, and then get over mistakes quickly when they happen (not if, when.) because it is wasted energy to dwell on the past. Learn from it and then get over it. You have another show tomorrow that is going to require all your energy again.
While on this tour, I have had to keep up with all my other activities, like continuing to look at our schedule and fill in dates even while on the road. Booking a 2 week tour in Toronto where no one knows who we are has been difficult, but not impossible. I am determined to go back every 3 months and am not only planning the first tour that direction, but the second and third. Some good advice I was given is to go often or not at all since you’ll be forgotten instantly if you don’t go back regularly. In the past few weeks we have met some people who are amazing musicians, sound engineers, event managers, etc and some even with potential opportunities for us. Any of which I will take. I ask a lot of questions about how people got to where they are in their careers. I try to be a sponge. And while trying to approach people with a very strict sense of humility, knowing we are just beginning this journey (even with a few years of doing this for a living behind us), some still feel the need to remind me that I have not earned the answers to my questions. Which is fair. There is a ladder you must climb and I guess some people think I might be trying to skip ahead any chance I can get, but that is not the case. I don’t apply for festivals because I see festivals shutting down, over budget, and not drawing what they need to be. I don’t have a strong enough following to offer any festival so I don’t apply to play at them. It all comes back to one of my earliest blogs about knowing your value. I ask questions about festivals and events though. I think it’s important to have the knowledge around them, even if I won’t be applying or sending my emails for another year or two. I try to just keep learning.
How long does it take to get a following of people who love your music and go anywhere to see you play? I don’t know, but my training tells me if we keep working hard it will come when the time is right. Now instead of trusting my instructors to give me the challenges I need, I am trusting the universe. I am by no means sitting back and waiting for it to come to me. I’m going after it and asking questions and going to events where I might meet some people who can help me further my career. I am working hard and trusting that when I get a “no”, it is because we are not ready for that opportunity yet or we should be applying our effort in a different direction. It is easy to get frustrated or anxious thinking about all the things you should be doing. This is not an easy life, but it’s something I love doing and will continue to do. I had a dream once and I woke up with a strong sense that I will be successful no matter what. Right now, we’re playing music and traveling around the country selling our album. It may be on a small scale, but we’re still doing it. The only way we stop doing it is if we choose to quit. So if we don’t quit, in 20 years we’ll still be traveling around the country and most likely the world selling our albums. How is that not success? Defining success for yourself is important. Can’t remember where I heard that, but it stuck with me. For some people, playing bars is success. For others, it’s being the biggest band in the world. I feel successful now and I have a short term plan to try to expand our brand and grow it into something that more people love. The long term is vague, but having steps to get there - even though it’s not something that is a clear path - is all I need to work on right now.
No one knows if the choices you make are the right ones. I have an idea of what is going to help us progress wisely, and which routes are biting off more than we can chew. As we go, the path will change, but it feels like we have our sights set on something awesome. Though some people believe it is impossible, that thought doesn’t cross my mind. Anything is possible.
On a side note, the boys went into a used book store in Penticton while I was napping and came out with a few awesome biographies. Jon Bon Jovi has always been one of my favourite people, not musicians, but people. Working in his cousin’s record studio in New York allowed him to meet a ton of mega stars and he came out with the understanding that the bigger the star, the nicer the person. I watched Oprah’s Master Class with Jon Bon Jovi years ago and never forgot that. Now, reading his book, I am again inspired by his story and how much determination he had. There was no way he was ever giving up. He would be successful no matter what. I have felt that same way from a very early age; that I was born to do something outside the usual. So I will do something. It may take time to get there, but what else is there to do in life... It doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as we’re going. That is my new definition of progressing wisely. The industry throws constant reminders of this and I am happy to take them. I have a life that teaches me new things constantly. The biggest challenge might be having patience with myself and trusting that it takes time to build an empire, but it will come.