It has never been my experience to meet a fellow songwriter or music creator that decided to do this for fortune and fame. We started doing this because it was an innate calling. It was in our DNA, and the option to do anything else was just not viable. We are a collection of quirky misfits who provide the musical underscore to everyone’s lives. Music is the strongest memory. That’s us. It’s important. You’re important.
The hardest part of this crazy passion we’ve chosen is dealing with the rejection, the failure, and the lack of perceived movement in our professional aspirations. Not to mention that little mosquito in our ear that buzzes…"you don’t got this" and other demoralizing thoughts. That mosquito never leaves us alone. Ever. I’ve had mine for 25 years. He’s my Stan. But that mosquito can also be used to motivate and drive our dreams. Buzz buzz
Wishing and hoping and wanting to "make it," unfortunately isn’t good enough. It requires the right temperament, perseverance, and commitment to your ultimate goal. For the last six years or so, I started putting together a philosophy called "The Critical Path." Some colleagues have asked me to write a book about it. I have some free time..usually between 1 am and 4 am.
Here are five things I do every day to help keep me on my Critical Path. I hope this resonates at all in order to keep you on yours.
By: Justin Gray Founder/Chairman MDIIO 1. Know what you want - It seems simple enough. Know what you want. Sure! Easy as that. But actually it really is. Once you know what you want, you could start setting your goals and how to get there. Concepts begets ideas. Ideas begets action. Action begets results. Results begets movement. "I want to win a Grammy." OK! Let’s think about the path that gets YOU to your Grammy. I also suggest starting small and creating achievable outcomes. "The great secret of getting what you want from life is to know what you want and believe you can have it." —Norman Vincent Peale.
I told you there would be inspirational quips :)
2. Know what you need (to do) - We have determined your goal. Awesome first step. The question is how do we get there? What do YOU need to do to achieve that goal? The famous cliché is shooting for the moon and at least you’ll be among the stars. There is some truth to that. Ideate…commit…execute. "Do what you have to do, until you can do what you want to do." - Oprah Winfrey
3. Build your blueprint - Make a business plan. Seriously! Write down on paper day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month and year-by-year what your moves will be. This is your critical path. Anything the deviates you off of your critical path is something that you should not even consider. Of course, you probably have a day job. And that’s fine. But don’t look at your day job as punishment. Look at your day job as providing the financial resources and tools to help you pursue your dreams. Let’s say your current job gives you the flexibility to chase your dream, but suddenly you are hired elsewhere for more money, but less flexibility. What are you going to do? No judgment. And yes…your Critical Path can change. There is no shame in that at all. Never lose your happiness. That should be rule number one."Most people fail not because of a lack of desire but because of a lack of commitment." - Vince Lombardi
4. Execute your plan - If you’re a songwriter, you need to be writing more than 100 songs a year. If you’re an artist, you need to be writing, recording, and releasing music consistently, while building up your social media presence. You will spend your own money to travel to Los Angeles or Nashville or wherever you need to go in order to make your dream come true and put yourself in proximity to others who share your vision and your dream. No one should believe in you more than you. So prove it. 99% of the time, opportunity won’t come to you. "If your ship doesn’t come in, row out to meet it." - Jonathan Winters
5. No excuses - excuses are just ways that you let yourself off the hook. You justify to yourself " this is dumb"…or "I’ll never make it"…Or whatever you say to yourself to justify failure. The people that you admire professionally as creatives, started, and continue to be riddled with self-doubt. Every single collaborator, artist, I know it’s constantly struggling with insecurity and self-doubt. When you look in the mirror, do you truly and really believe that you can make it? If you do, stop at nothing. It doesn’t matter what people around you think. We’ve chosen a unique and nontraditional path. But whatever happens, at the end of the day when you self-evaluate just make sure that you never lose sight of who you are, and that you always love yourself. "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" - Benjamin Franklin
In my 25 year career, I have seen talent come and go. The people that I know that really and truly "Make It" are the ones that are 70% tenacity, 20% talent, and 10% chutzpah (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chutzpah). Take it from someone who is a solid 80/10/10. Talent and technique can be learned, but tenacity is an unteachable gift.
See you next week…and keep writing hits :)