Every serious musician, in some form or fashion, dreams of success, whether it’s being paid for their craft or fame that is far reaching and iconic. Success is defined in various ways across a large spectrum, and they tell you to define that early in your career what that looks like for you. That’s not my point here, but that is just where we begin.
Let’s talk about success in terms of non-monetary terms for a moment. Let’s view success in terms of setting goals and achieving them one at a time. Interestingly, success is not one moment or one mountaintop goal achieved. Take it a step further and I say success is not an isolated event. Rather, it is a culmination of many years of hard work peppered with moments of trying, doubting, finding a way and refusing to give up. And even more momentous is that success is not isolated to an individual, despite the emphasis we place on one person. If success was dependent on and resulting from one person, I think achievements could be made much faster without other factors involved. I am nothing without the countless people who paid for my music lessons, friends and family who encouraged me along the way, people who told me not to quit, and those who held my hands when I felt lost and let me cry on their shoulders.
When you reach career milestone goals like playing at some amazing venue, selling out a show, or gaining traction in some way, don’t forget to remind yourself of one thing. Repeat after me-“This moment is not just for myself.” This moment is for all of them out there- all of you who were cheerleading, encouraging, hugging, praying, telling us not to quit and to stay the course. We musicians are merely the vessels, the channels through which the gift comes. It is not without the shoulders of giants that we are carried throughout all of our creative phases.
Dear artists and musicians of the world, please consider a new vision. May we, especially musicians, learn to leave ego at the door. If used properly, success can humble us instead of puffing up our vanity about how great we are to the world around us. We should view it as giving back the gift to the world around us. Something every musician should carry in their gear case…. Thankfulness for the gift and the ability to use it.