Excerpts

  • 5. Attitude


    If you take steps to accomplish something, that action will have a result- either failure or success. When you shoot your arrow, either it will hit the target or it will miss. Trust is knowing there will be a message…Those messages are neither regarded as punishment nor congratulations. You trust not in success but in reality…the result is not an end in itself. You can always go beyond the result; it is the seed for a further journey.

    Chogyam Trungpa

    Shambhala: The Sacred Path of The Warrior

    Mistakes and failures are what you need to succeed. 

    Mistakes and failures pinpoint the things you need to improve. They happen to everyone, no matter how talented. Frustration is the name of the game.

    When mistakes are made, it can be too easy to be self-critical and frustrated, to lose confidence in yourself.

    Attitude is the key. Johnny Ferreira, who has been featured on Billboard Top Ten hits, was asked when he started out what he planned to fall back on should his music career not work out. He replied: "You only need something to fall back on if you plan on falling back. I never thought of getting into something and 'falling back'. I always go forward." 

    Be fair to yourself; learn to roll with the setbacks and disappointments. Understand and accept that mistakes and setbacks are a normal part of the learning process. No matter how experienced or talented, you will never stop making them. Great accomplishments are built on a foundation of failure. 

    Neuromodulators map out “pathways” in the brain. In everything you do, every effort you make sends out a tiny signal. Over time, these signals form a mental “pathway”. The more you practice, the more effective and deeply entrenched will become the pathway until an action can be performed quickly and efficiently. Which is how you learned how to walk, run and talk at an early age.

    Perfectionism was an abyss I fell into far too many times when growing up. Although perfectionism was the driving force that made me work harder and always try to improve, it also was the voice inside my head that loudly would criticize every mistake, and demand that I perform perfectly and win every time, no matter my amount of experience or skill. However,  I eventually learned that when things aren’t going well, not to get down on myself, not to beat myself up emotionally. What separates the best from the rest is the ability to be honest about mistakes and setbacks and to put those lessons to work.

    Ken Fornetran, a Downbeat Jazz award winner, said, "I felt like I had to come up with the perfect song, the perfect set, and would get upset if there were mistakes...I used to think that if I made a mistake, the entire set was messed up and horrible. But, if you really break it down to the first song, then the second and so on, some will be good, some less so, and you suddenly realize that out of the two hours, maybe only 5 percent wasn't that good. But, that 5 percent shouldn't be the only part that you remember and therefore make you feel bad about your playing. The memories of that negative emotion can carry over to the next gig, and after a while, you're in trouble...Worry turns you inward, cuts you off. We begin to have issues about getting up in front of people and playing. We can begin to get nervous about it, to constantly worry. I used to have those kind of anxiety issues. But, I learned to just let things happen. It's not going to hurt you if you make mistakes. That's how we learn..."

    Nothing is gained by being afraid to fail; failure is a process of exploration and discovery that provides invaluable insight and feedback. Rather than fearing the risks of failure, give it your best try and see what happens. After all, what have you got to lose? At the least, you’ll just end up where you already are. By accepting the opportunity, by trusting in yourself and going for it, you create the chance to explore, discover and learn something new.

    Famous jazz musician David Sanborn (who has played with a wide range of musicians including The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Steve Wonder, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins to name just a very few) said, "That’s what really keeps the music healthy and alive, when people step out of their little boxes and try different things. Even if it fails…I think it is more interesting to fail than it is to succeed, really. Because you learn so much more from your failures than you do your successes…That’s something that’s a little bit lost today...people are so concerned with getting this perfect product out there, that people aren't as willing to take chances...because they feel that the stakes are so high, and that music becomes rather than a means of expression, it becomes more of a commodity, and something that is packaged and sold like cat food...There’s nothing wrong with that, but you can have other things as well. You need that spirit of experimentation in order to find these new things…that’s the only way the music is going to grow and stay alive."

    You never “fail”. You are always learning.