Artists are mostly brooders; we are, let’s face it. We worry too much. We are constantly tripping about where we should be and therefore look down on ourselves about where our careers currently are and as a result, we get depressed, crotchety, upset, and some of us get downright mean.
I got news for you, this mental process is breaking the 10th commandment; THOU SHALT NOT COVET. This isn’t a religion thing; it’s a great piece of 2000 year old advice. Somebody already articulated the damage and ruin that Coveting creates ages ago!
Coveting is a killer of artists, creativity, and careers; oh, and a completely nonproductive exercise. Yeah, yeah, I know, most of us can’t help ourselves; it’s what makes us artists! However, mastering the art of avoiding nonproductive thinking and behavior is what makes us successful in whatever endeavors we choose to pursue.
It’s what makes us mature.
It’s what makes us true professionals
It’s what puts food on our table
It’s what makes us ready!
Here are five methods to avoid coveting and focus on what is truly important to our success.
1. Don’t Look In The Rear View Mirror: David Lee Roth summed it up best by saying “If you keep on looking in the rear view mirror, man, you will drive off the road and keep on going.” We can grasp a simple calming perspective by internalizing the fact that our past is EXACTLY that; the past. There is literally NOTHING you can do about the past, so spending 1 second of energy on it is an EPIC fail and a colossal waste of time. The past is what got us here; our successes and failures are part of who we are so we have to embrace them. I mean, WTF else can you do with them that will help your future? When I was a pro artist and depressed, my manager, Barbara Strauss, used to make me sit down and think about how far I have come and everything I accomplished to get where I was. I highly recommend this mental exercise as it always helped me kick the blues.
2. Focus on What You HAVE Instead of What You Don’t Have: I promise the answers to all our future career questions and successes lies within the blessings we currently have, NOT in what we don’t have. Think about that for a second, it logically HAS TO; every artist that we know did not break and become the icons we love by getting something they didn’t have. Simple math really. Any thoughts we entertain about what we don’t have is a cop out and quite damaging as it only sets up excuses to quit; negative thinking will never help us succeed, so STOP IT.
3. You Can Only Control RIGHT NOW: The past is the past, the future is the future the ONLY thing you ever have control over in your life is RIGHT NOW. So worrying about the past is a waste of time. Worrying about the future a fruitless search. We have to take action and work TODAY…RIGHT NOW!! Think about that, it’s the ONLY way we can possibly succeed and realize our dreams. Huge selling artists like Motley Crue, Brantley Gilbert, Florida Georgia Line, Ratt, and the Zac Brown Band thought this way. They all had success and record sales LONG before they had record deals, y’all. They went to the negotiating table with the majors that ultimately signed them with a ton of leverage. How could they have achieved all the record sales and success they did BEFORE they got signed if they were sitting around saying, “if we just had a record deal so we could get paid, then we could be stars.” They didn’t wait for anything.
4. Work: Work creates momentum. We have to work. When we are feeling really down about where you are there is literally no better remedy for the artistic blues than redoubling our efforts towards our careers. I get it, you don’t want to get out of bed when you’re depressed, but often times the simplest task of working on SOMETHING that advances your career will create the feeling of momentum in your head and make you feel better; the depression starts to subside. Motion creates emotion! Working out doesn’t hurt either! Physical exercise is a GREAT remedy for depression
5. Ignore the Haters: Especially the most powerful hater which is our own internal negative voice! Again, listening to that voice or any other hater only leads to one result; an excuse to quit. Hollywood will tell you that if you are an actress, you need to be beautiful, perfect and really young to break. Try telling that to Sharon Stone who didn’t “break” until she was 35 and went on to an amazing career including an Oscar for her role in “Casino”. Try telling that to Rodney Dangerfield who had a family and sold aluminum siding up until he broke in comedy at age 45. How about Joaquin Phoenix who overcame a hair-lip and a hump back (which he still has btw) to become a star. How about Melissa McCarthy who is obese but still a brilliant successful Hollywood comedic actress. Every label in town passed on Van Halen TWICE before they finally got signed to Warner Bros. Nobody wanted to sign Winger until their producer went to bat for them. Etc, etc, etc. I promise you for every reason you and your haters can create to predict your failure, I can find 10 people that overcame the same hardships and succeeded. It’s all up to you; nobody else.
by Johnny Dwinell
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