We are all in the same boat. We all are being forced to adapt to the blistering pace of change we see in the world. It’s unsettling, it’s scary, and, worst of all, nobody knows what will happen next. Alvin Toffler predicted that we would live in a state of “cultural anxiety” in Future Shock. Who would have known that what he predicted in 1970 would come true?
For many, death is something to be feared…hence the massive pain we see in the world as we witness the end of the Industrial Age. And why is it that death is promoted as the ultimate “dark” experience? Are we even aware of what is dying?
It appears that the 300 lb. gorilla in the room is that what we have known to be true is not only being questioned, it’s dying. (Kubler-Ross talked about grief in her famous book: “On Death and Dying” ).
Fear not…what is dying is what we are conditioned to believe…not life itself.
Life constantly moves forward regardless whether we like it or not. Engaging fully with life is the hard part…especially when we are desperately holding on to the past to make sense out of our future.
Accepting is to let go. It is impossible to truly accept and be fearful.
If you understand the process of grieving you will be on your way to accepting your current circumstance.
The fascinating thing is if you let go, you won’t break. You will be set free.
Ever give much thought to how you present yourself when you met someone? Do you stumble over words? Do you maintain eye contact? Does your body language indicate warm and inclusive or guarded and remote? Are the muscles in your face relaxed or tense? Do you ask questions and listen? Or, do you talk over the other person?
If you are in sales you have probably thought about these things. If not, it may have never given it much thought.
PRESENTING YOURSELF ONLINE.
Even though online interaction is primarily text driven, your choice of language, photos, which posts to comment on and which to avoid is essentially a reflection of who you are and defines your online presence. These interactions are how you will be judged and will determine whether or not the reader will choose to engage.
Successful social media interaction requires you to understand “why” you are posting/commenting/likeing etc prior to making the post. Once you click return you lose control of your message.
Best be focused if you want to get your message across.
Is being “cool” a subjective term? For some, being cool is as attractive as a flame to a moth. For others it is something to be avoided. Whatever your opinion we all think of it as a “mysterious quality” that some people have and others don’t.
Don’t believe it. Being “cool” is a combination of three personality traits. And, regardless of your natural aptitudes your “coolness” can be nurtured and refined.
What makes somebody “cool”?
Having discipline, willpower and the ability to focus attention.
Like most patients I instantly feel more comfortable when my doctor comes into the exam room if I sense he is in control of his emotions, unflappable and can focus their attention on me, rather than the multitude of distractions available. In this instance being able to focus your attention really means being able to listen attentively.
Why is attentive listening “cool”?
Focusing your attention while listening is when the magic happens. Focused attention opens the door to making real and lasting connections. It is only after such a connection is made that you can be truly compassionate and empathetic. As the world continues to change at such a dramatic pace our attraction to authentic relationships will become more and more important. Great value can be derived by simply by listening well. Without even realizing it your “cool” factor will increase.
Why is discipline “cool”?
We all face difficult situations. Those who maintain their self-control usually manage to navigate through rough waters while those who react emotionally will have a more difficult time. The phrase: “cool under fire” comes to mind. Don’t we all prefer to be around people who seem unflappable?
Determination is defined as a “firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end”. Why is Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson or any other successful athlete or performer deemed “cool?” They have all used their willpower and determination to achieve their goals. We instinctively gravitate towards winners because at some level we want to share in and identify with their success.
And why is being “cool” so important?
We have reached a milestone as a culture. Almost without exception we have learned to spot a phony a mile away. We no longer will accept being sold a bill of goods.
Using social media effectively requires that you offer the reader something more than what you receive in return. What better than to offer them the chance to experience an authentic connection? Now that would really be “cool”!
Increasing your “cool” factor is not mysterious. It’s actually rather simple:
- Listen with focused attention (enabling authentic connections)
- Strive to be disciplined (staying on message)
- Never give up (pursuing your goals)
How will that change lives?
You will undoubtedly affect the lives of those around you. And, you may realize one day that you are, in fact, pretty cool!
When we start out it is very difficult to figure out how to begin work on a piece. If you are lucky there will be a burst of inspiration. Quite often that is followed by a blank stare. What do I do next? Where do I go? How will I ever finish? It is common and very easy to slip into a depression at this point to where you stop work and never finish.. We all go through this…everyone.
How does one combat this? The key is learning how to approach the process and to learn how you behave in the midst of this process. The better you understand yourself and your process, the better chance you have of being effective.
Once you decide on the original idea….commit to it. This is crucial. Defining your goals in real terms, language etc gives the structure needed to get to the end. I’m reminded of an Igor Stravinsky quote: “the more restrictions I place on myself, the freer I become”. At first glance this may seem counter-intuitive. In fact, it is just the opposite. Without definition it is impossible for your listener to understand what you are doing. If you look at a great painting, the intent of the artist will be clear. The mystery will come from your interpretation….what you think of the work. Great art provokes a response. Music is no different. Limiting the scope of what you are attempting will train your mind to focus. And, the creative mind will look for ways to take these few symbols or characters and make something new.
Now it is time to go to work. Sitting at the desk is mental exercise…not unlike going to the gym and working out. Instead of lifting weights you will be in a constant problem solving state.
As you work on a piece you will get distracted, stop and start, come back to it another day. You will find no limit to number of distractions you will potentially face. Take a minute and jot your goal down on a piece of paper or index card. Defining your goals, committing to an idea will give you an object to refer to as time passes…reminding you of where you are going.
I’m also a HUGE fan of the idea of getting to the end. It is impossible to evaluate a work without having something complete to judge. One of the huge advantages of midi is that enables you to switch gears and become an audience instead of a participant. Listening to what you’ve done with a critical ear…judging your work not from your ego (aren’t I cool?) but from an objective and analytical point of view (how does this help me achieve my goal?) is the key to growth.
Steps to take:
Commit to an idea
Limit your possibilities
Define your goals
Putting in the time
Judging your work objectively
Understanding your process and training yourself to think in these terms will move you forward as an artist…if you do the work. That much I can guarantee.
Like any muscle, the more you exercise it, the easier it becomes.
In these uncertain times I often think back on how I got to this place and date in my life.
I guess this all goes back to my Mom. Why is this relevant to music?
Being and living the life of an artist in these times is uncertain at the least and extremely challenging at best. It is the lessons learned in childhood that shape how and what you will become later in life.
Mom would use these phrases, among others, to reassure when I had my doubts:
“Be the best you can be-that is all you can ask of yourself”
“Giving is the same as receiving”
” Your talent is a gift-honor that gift-don’t take it for granted”
Mom didn’t really understand music but she did understand people and life.
I’ve had many, many challenges in my life. I’ve had to reinvent myself numerous times, push through my uncertainties and face my fears…all in search of being the best musician I could possibly be. My defense was this: “if I always did my best and it didn’t work out I could walk away from the success or failure with a clear conscience…I could do no more.
Now I can’t say I’ve always been successful…but I will say this: Regardless of whether I reached my goal or not, I have always learned something…maybe not what I expected.
In every situation we are faced with a choice: “Do we just get by? Or do we choose the best solution-regardless of the cost personal or emotional?”
Me? I seem to take the latter rather than former….with out regret. The “easy” way out has not been an option.
The reward? It has always served me well to the “best that I can be”-that is all I can ask of myself.