I had the opportunity to be a panellist at the 6th Annual World Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit. Now that is a title. It is a student driven, university supported movement trying to energize, educate and motivate students who are interested in making a difference in this vital area of world need. In the session in which I was a panellist, a young lady asked the question, how does one do everything and fit in the time to fight hunger?
In fairness to her, I think she saw a panel of people at various stages of life. One in particular who is very successful in both business and philanthropic endeavors, Joey Adler. All of us look at people like Joey and say, how can you do it all?
My response to the question was simple, you don't do everything. You can't. You make decisions to do what you deem most important. If ending hunger is important, than you make time to end hunger.
One of the thoughts I included is one I am trying to practice and recently had named for me in the book by Peter Arnell, "Shift". In it he talks about how he learned to have "one life". I think having one life allows you to be driven. It allows you to integrate and use all of your skills talents and passions to make a change, make a living, be a spouse, a parent, a friend, a musician (in my case) and executive amongst other things. For me it has been freeing as I allow myself to do the things I love and the things that are important to me. I love fighting hunger (Day Job). I love writing songs (Night job). I have not married those two things together as a career or anything, but I am increasingly allowing both to inform and inspire each other.
If I am honest, I had a dream of "making it" in music, of having buckets of money, and being able to help those in need with those resources. It hasn't happened. But something interesting has. I realized I was passionate about helping people. I also realized I didn't want to stop creating music, even if I don't make a living at it. So I do both. I think I will always find a way to do both. It looks way different than I thought it would, but it is happening.
I, like you, do not know how life and occupation will change for me. We live in a different world now than just a few decades ago. I am convinced that with focus and drive, we can all make space to help our fellow man and pursue our passions, even when at times they seem unrelated.
Never underestimate the power of the art you create. Great art has a habit of lasting, and of trying to find ways to come out into the light. The only cautionary tale there is to be responsible. Make sure it is something that you believe you can be proud of forever.
Incremental creation builds into a substantial body of work, and you may be surprised what rises to the top.
One of the things that I enjoy doing, both for myself, and others, is bringing clarity to passion. For me, learning how to do that has taken years of learning in different settings and situations. One of the biggest challenges in the process is distilling vision-compatible ideas from on-vision ideas. Why?
If I want to be a songwriter, one would think that anything that contributes to that should be done. So I write a song, then another. I attend songwriting conferences. I co-write songs. I teach seminars on songwriting at the local music store…etc. Of course in the process I never publish a song. Somewhere we think that doing closely related activity should help us achieve our goals. Maybe we will meet someone who likes a song and wants to use it, publish it, fund our CD, but it rarely happens.
No, I have to write the song, produce the song, publish the song, market the song, sell the song, either to the public or other artists, and I have to keep doing that until I win. Some people are very fortunate and arrive at a place where all of the things that happen after they use their skill, all of the business "stuff", is handled by someone else (for a fee of course). For the rest of us, we have to realize, that the way to fulfill our dreams and passions is to both practice our passion, and do all of the business things that allow us to share and benefit from sharing our passion with the world.
A love song for February seemed appropriate. I Want To Tell You is very simply a few highlights about the journey my wife and I have been on for the last 13 plus years! There is a mention of Benny's Bagels in Kitsilano for all of my Vancouver friends!! How is that for s simple story behind the song.
I have to tell you, I am really please with this song from a production standpoint. One of the goals for this year is to challenge myself with the monthly deadline to increase my creativity and chops as it pertains to writing and producing. I am definitely growing.
Hey if you like it, check out "I'm Right Here" on my Buried Thoughts CD from a year ago. Jazzy love song, again for 'me bride!
Maybe you have made plans, maybe you haven't, but whether you have or not, the days are passing by.
One of the things that can help you assess things is a picture. A graph, a shape or something that represents what you were trying to accomplish against what you actually have. Shapes are great and less scary than numbers (although numbers feed them in the case of graphs).
You don't need to use excel, you can freehand it. On the x axis right down several points that you are trying to achieve. Going on dates with your spouse, learning guitar, making a move in your career etc. On the y axis, simply write from the bottom to the top, 1 to 10. Spend some time evaluating your activities and rate yourself on how you are doing. The 1 to 10 might represent progress rather than "a mark". Maybe realistically you should only be 10% into one of those goals so 1 is on target. Then join the lines to create a curve.
Although this sounds terribly rudimentary, you now have a shape. Mentally, you can easily see the lows and highs of your goals and re-shift efforts to shore up some of the low lying areas.
Why? Because it is early, and you will probably be encouraged by one of two things: You have accomplished more than you thought; or that although you are not far yet, you are sure glad you checked with over 10 months left in the year to re-commit to the goals.
I am excited to share that the February Song of the Month, "I Want To Tell You" is now available for download on iTunes and CDBaby. It is a love song in keeping with both the Family Day holiday and Valentine's holiday this month!! At least around these parts. Enjoy!
I happen to be an odd fellow. Years ago I took a leadership evaluation. It dealt with both skills and personality factors. One of the personality things that came out was that I am both highly introverted and extroverted. Usually, of course, a person is weighted towards one or the other. In my case I can get re-energized by either situation, and to some degree I naturally seek out the method that I need at the moment.
There is some discernment needed though. For instance, sometimes I am in a writing mood, and getting alone in the studio is productive and energizing. Sometimes though, a retreat when I am feeling low, which actually amounts to navel gazing and is not helpful.
In the book that I have referenced a few times here, "The Happiness Advantage", I was reminded of the fact that those with a healthy social circle are happiest. In fact, those who rely on their social circle in tough times fair much better and bounce back faster than those who do not.
So if you are having a tough time, don't retreat, engage.
I remember reading a motivational piece years ago that talked about learning new things, and in a sense, taking risks to do so. The example the story gave was a fellow who mused to a piano-teacher friend how he would like to learn to play piano. His friend mentioned that it takes 10 years to become proficient in piano, but it starts to become enjoyable fairly early on in that journey. Ten years later, the two were chatting again and the conversation came to that same point. You know what the teacher said. If his friend had started when they had their last conversation on the matter, he would be playing well today.
I have always wanted to produce, over the last several years I have purchased the equipment and learned and produced several things including a full CD, Buried Thoughts. Since I was a teenager I wanted to play guitar. About 10 years ago I traded in my trumpet and bought an acoustic guitar. I lead worship, perform and record on guitar now. Last week, after years of wanting to try electric guitar, I purchased a very inexpensive electric guitar. Time to learn a new style and technique.
Here is the thing. All the way a long there have been many people who have discouraged me from trying. People better at producing, or playing etc, and you know what, they are still better than me. Two things though, I have learned to do several things that I couldn't do before, and it makes me incredibly happy!!
What things do you want to try in life? The fact that U2 exists, that Chris Tomlin is out there etc., didn't stop me from growing. I don't need anyone to tell me they are amazing and better than me. On the other hand, I also don't have to accept that because I am not at that level, I should not try at all. Not everything we want to try needs to be about reaching the top. In fact, most of us will not reach the top at anything. But happiness and success can be defined many different ways. I set goals to become proficient, to grow, and to enjoy. I have achieved those goals and want to continue to improve.
What new thing do you want to try? Make a plan to start. Don't let others discourage you, after all, it is not about them.
For the record, I am not talking about major life change here either, although it might be valid to take steps on big picture things, that does take more buy-in from spouses etc. But little things can become significant. So write that book, blog, paint that picture, take that course, take up golf….to Nike-i-FY….just do it!
I read a lot of Seth Godin, especially his blog. I resonate with today's post on making big plans. Big plans do create pressure, and although I bragged about pushing through, I have ended up hitting some snags in the release process this week. Very draining.
I wrote before how obstacles are opportunities. I have an opportunity this week to keep pushing and win, and I will. More to come….
OK, I have never run a marathon, not even close, but I have read about the wall one hits late in a marathon. Learning how to break through the wall is essential to finishing the race. I am not sure if I should be concerned or not, but I feel like I have just broken through a wall with music production. For whatever reason, the February song of the month was a beast I could not tame until Sunday afternoon, almost a week behind when I wanted to release it (but still on time for February!!)
The upside is I have shipped the February Song of the Month to digital distribution. I will let you know when it hits iTunes as soon as I know!
I had mentioned that one of my goals this year is to "get bigger", to grow, intellectually, spiritually, in my body of work etc. I didn't think that I would hit a wall in month two, but I did , and I broke through. I must admit, it was very difficult. It took all of my physical and creative energy to finish the job, I pushed myself as hard as I can remember ever pushing, but I am over the moon, not only with the accomplishment, but the song itself.
So why do I share? Two reasons: I have committed to being as open and honest as I can on this journey this year, sharing the ups and downs; The other reason is I hope you can take something for yourself. What do you want to accomplish, really want to accomplish? Set a date, and push through all walls until you accomplish it. In the process, I think you too will grow bigger!!