The life of the artist is fraught with pitfalls most people are not aware of. Artists look at the world differently than most…it is what makes us unique. For me, being open and generous is my natural state of being. When it comes to music I have never felt possessive about my abilities. My skills are a gift from God. I had very little to do with it. I freely share because the music is not mine to own.
The art of being vulnerable in your business life is an acquired skill. In this crazy business of being a creative you must accept that wearing your heart on your sleeve has great rewards but there are also risks that are not always apparent.
I believe that to create my best music requires me to be in a safe, comfortable place and almost devoid of thought. When I am working for someone else, or, if I am collaborating with others there must be a high level of trust for me to do my best work. I am bearing my soul…naked for the world to see. If there is not that level of trust it is all too easy to be mundane and ordinary as a means of self-protection. Being ordinary is worse to me than being hurt so, I look for any branch in the raging river to grab a hold of to give me a glimmer of hope that those I am working with are worthy and can be trusted.
Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
No matter what the situation there is the distinct possibility that not everyone you work with will share the same values. In my case I have been used (and abused) by many who sought to personally benefit from my generosity of spirit. In the end that is okay though I could rattle off a laundry list of perpetrators if I were a bitter sort of person. You see, I made the choice to honor my inherent nature and optimism rather than be a slave to forces beyond my control. I would much rather deal with the sting of disappointment than wear the golden handcuffs. It is what makes me be able to sleep at night.
There is no way to avoid being hurt in this business. It comes with the territory.
The more appropriate thing to think about is how to set boundaries to protect yourself….WITHOUT hampering your ability to trust. Learn to trust your judgment. Learn to identify your true motives. Learn to listen to what your inner voice is saying. Weigh the risks and rewards. If you accept the risks you can deal with the disappointments…nothing ventured nothing gained. Learning to let go of your disappointments will serve you well in music as well as life. This reminds me of the Buddhist parable of the two monks.
Through all of my ups and downs I never, ever, regret engaging in my life to the point where I would potentially be disappointed.
Sure it hurts sometimes. But, the upside is so remarkable and richly rewarding that I willingly accept the risks.
And besides– tomorrow is another day! Quincy Jones has a great saying: “I have 28,000 days–I’m not going to waste one of’em”.