It is important that you and I reach our full potential. Why? Because you and I matter, and what we do matters. It is the way we think, act and the path of our lives. I want to live to my fullest potential. How about you?
A Philosopher Speaks Out
How about this guy? Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Have you have heard his name? A German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theater director, critic, and amateur artist. That’s quite a line up of accolades. The man has had a major influence in Western and World thought.
He said this-
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
What Is Genius?
I define genius as someone who is exceptionally intelligent or creative. Some folks would lump natural ability on top of that.
A couple of deciding factors I live by are grit and determination. For more on that check out this blog post on Discipline and Perseverance.
One of my mentors, Steve Smith, definitely fits the category of Renaissance Person. One of the concepts he advocates is diligence in correct practice. Steve admits, as a kid, he wasn’t a naturally gifted drummer. By shear determination, and with the right mentorship, he was able to overcome his lack of skill.
By diligence and focus, Steve, and his wife Kristy, have created an internationally recognized music school.
Back to Goethe – What is Power? There is the control, authority, or influence over others. How about having control, authority and influence over your abilities? How about the ability to change things in your life?
Magic is the ability to acquire mysterious or supernatural forces with wonderful and exciting outcomes. Johann might have known something about that.
With genius, power and magic is boldness. Boldness is the display of confidence and utilizing innovation. Boldness exhibits courage, appearing vivid and clear, with strength.
I get it. It is often not easy to push yourself and go beyond your perceived limitations. It is much more simple to spend time on the things in which you are familiar. But to expand, and become more than we currently are, it is important to push ourselves. The effort you expend needs to be spent in unfamiliar territory. This can be, at the very least, uncomfortable. At the worst, emotionally and physically painful.
Why I Work With Others
In my pursuit of creativity, collaboration has been the foundation of everything. I haven’t displayed great song writing abilities or command of melody. I’m not a guitar player, but I recently picked it up again. I can carve out ideas on the piano, but haven’t pursued mastering the instrument. I’m a good drummer and pretty decent in my home recording environment. I am confident in my ears and can hear deep into a mix.
Every new project that I complete is another step to that elusive level of mastery. There is a foundation of faith built upon previous accomplishment which reinforces this belief.
The challenge has been the strength of my musical relationships. Some people have only so much talent, time and resources they are able to commit. Some talk of embracing commitment, but do not want-to-want the responsibility. Many wait to the last minute to break scheduled rehearsal and recording engagements. Most people aren’t prepared when they do show up.
There is a major question that needs asking – am I being too dependent on others? Despite my limitations, the solution may be conducting more process on my own.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I know a lot of people who are happy with where they are. A lot of artists are like that; they are happy with their circumstances.
Everybody makes the choices they want; everyone has their own reasons. I have taken this to heart.
Quoting Neil deGrasse Tyson –
The most successful people in life recognize that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.
There are times when I just want to do something for its own sake. Catch up on novels, watch a movie or cooking for friends. I really like to cook.
Most things I focus on are long term by nature. Rome wasn’t built in a day and my goals won’t be either.
Attributes of Motivation
Psychologists state that self-efficacy is the belief that we are able to control our emotions, behavior and motivations. Simply put, it is a personal judgement of how we are able to cope with circumstances utilizing our abilities.
This is a learned attribute. I had no idea that I could do the things I do until I started applying myself. One morning I looked in the mirror and asked myself, “Who are you? I do not recognize this person.” There is growing confidence in every endeavor in which I apply myself. It’s pretty amazing.
The dictionary definition – a branch of knowledge, a subject of study in higher education. The practice of discipline requires holding yourself to standards. You could feel exhausted, angry or disgusted from your circumstances. Everything could be going south, yet you persevere. You have created a standard of accountability and you adhere to it.
Open-minded people are likely to be more empathetic. It is a good thing to see the other person’s point of view. I had considered myself to be an unbiased person for many years. I started to realize that my speech patterns were not aligning to my self-image. It took a while for me to start being receptive to other people’s point of view.
Listening to what people are saying is critical. I have given up investment in many of my beliefs. Letting go of my pride has helped transition to a less biased belief system. Through this process there has come personal growth. The results include more optimism, growing mental strength and new insights.
Cunning is often associated with nefarious behavior. Being able to use perspectives that are unorthodox is a form of cunning. It does not always need to be associated with negative conduct. There is a positive side to its practice.
Cunning is correlated to open-mindedness. Using our abilities to see around circumstances, looking for uncommon ways to find solutions, is a wily and artful device. The way to develop this is to cram ideas into our brains. The solutions will come.
Again, this is generally considered a negative behavior; I have an alternate perspective. We have all confronted individuals caught up in themselves. Some of those people practice narcissism to such a high degree that they can’t see the forest for the trees. Those persons are no fun and tedious.
On the positive side of narcissism, focusing on yourself can develop power. As creative individuals, we need to spend time producing. We have to arrange our schedules to help the generation of our creative process. This requires an immense amount of time shutting out the world. I spend hour upon hour, everyday, concentrating on activities which further my creativity.
This is a true act of selfishness. You can only be good at the things you are obsessed with. Being obsessed, you will spend time and allocate the energy needed to develop skill with your obsession. I know of no other way. Please tell me if there are alternatives, I would love to explore those.
The left Field
Life is throwing situations at us all the time. Some circumstances need only small amounts of effort while others may need more. Yesterday, the brakes went out on my bicycle. I’m no bike mechanic; to keep riding I needed to take it to the shop. I spent a couple of hours of time to get the repair set up.
The pandemic is a different kind of left field. I expected to be out of work for a few weeks. That few weeks turned into a year and half with intermittent periods of employment.
We take these situations as life lessons, a path to building character. What does our culture say – whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?
Stuff happens, there is no way around it. Change happens; it is one great constants in life. Is our strength of character magnified by the trials and challenges in our lives? Many would say yes. You can count on life presenting obstacles which will hinder the progress of your dreams.
Count me in; all I can say is amen and amen.
What ever happens, don’t stop. Stay all-in.
Herein lies great danger. I do everything in my power to avoid a settled for life. When is good enough, good enough?
There have been periods of time, sometimes many years, where the goals I sought seemed to be the right ones. I would spend enormous amounts of time and resources pursuing them. These circumstances always revolved around someone else’s dream.
I was a willing co-worker; embracing their projects as if they were my own. I would ignore their foibles and shortcomings, but they were always willing to point out mine. I now see it for what it was; it was a form of control. Also, it fostered a relationship of codependency.
I thought that these situations were the best thing I had going. All I had to do was open my eyes and believe more in myself. I felt security in these band situations. Realizing Good enough was not good enough changed my approach.
The ‘AHA’ Moment
The markers of my direction became clear to me in several different situations. There were three different tribute bands which sought me out. These bands were very successful and a had a huge repertoire of material. I thought these were good ideas and would allow me to keep my horizons broad.
For the first opportunity, I spent three weeks writing out charts. I committed to spending hour after hour practicing the tunes. As this process unfolded I started realizing that my personal goals were being put on the shelf. Frustration compounded; I needed to make a decision. Am I going to work with this cover band or am I going to pursue my own interests? What about my studio projects? I walked away from the gig.
For the second tribute band, the exact same situation repeated itself. I guess I am a slow learner. Priorities, Bry, Priorities.
For the third tribute band, I immediately said no. At that point I was creating a tremendous amount of content; first things first.
In any field, fundamentals hold the keys to success. Reinforcing basics is everything. Embrace them, never let go.
Self-belief is paramount. Do you have faith in your chosen path and are you expecting results from your efforts? We might try to predict the outturns of our efforts but end up with different results. Those efforts might unveil new goals and create unexpected outcomes.
Your group of associations has it’s own set of established traditions. There is some sort of mythology in your sphere of influence. That sphere has its own myths and legends. Those interpretations change as your group’s myths collide with the group’s preconceptions.
If you think you can do it, you probably can. Belief in yourself has to be bigger than your circumstances. Make sure you are around people who think, believe and behave the way you do.
Can we help you?
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