005: You Get What You Deserve
Have you ever been working on a big project, logging late nights completing a grant application, or the months and months you spend booking your album release tour? Once you finally complete it you feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders. You can pat yourself on the back and relax a bit now that this project is done. What's next? I should go out for diner and celebrate! Or maybe I’ll hop on Amazon and order that wooden desk organizer I’ve been pining over because it will help reduce clutter and provide little spots to keep change and keys and business cards - you know, as one does when you complete a task. I was notorious for doing this, and I think initially it came from a good place. But after some time, I really thought about what I was doing and I realized the mistake I had made. Because in the end you really do get what you deserve.
On the surface there is nothing wrong with celebrating life's little victories. We should seek to do the things we enjoy, and have the things that add value in our lives. But we need to be careful about how we relate these things to our work life. When we associate our work tasks with a ‘reward’ at the end we can end up robbing ourselves of their true value. When we reward ourselves with a meal out, or a shining new item, we are taking the focus away from what we should really be proud of - the process- and then attaching the feeling of pride to a fleeting thing. Any major task that you complete is worth celebrating in and of itself, and we should associate that pride with the task and the process. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t celebrate your success, just be mindful of what you are celebrating. When we give ourselves a gold star we can actually devalue the feeling we should get from the process. It’s a slippery slope and your work can end up just becoming a method to get a new reward for completing the latest task. If this happens you’ll never truly find satisfaction as you complete things on a regular basis.
Longevity in any career requires passion. It is easy to have passion for the exciting things - the concerts, the recording session, the video shoots. But you need to find passion in the day to day - and that comes in recognizing that all these tasks are part of a bigger vision, a bigger direction. If you take that outlook into every project you are working on, it is much easier to get excited about the process.
So instead of getting what you deserve, you need to remember that you get what you give. You need to remember this as you are working through the tasks of your day, you need to give them your all, your passion, your focus and your desire to succeed. And if you give that you’ll get it back in return. It’s no fancy desk organizer - but the success you’ll find will give you more space in your life and allow you to find more time to celebrate. The flip side is that these things will have more value, they are no longer a participation trophy but instead they become a true artifact of your success. You get out what you put in - so put in joy and excitement and passion.
And if all else fails, remember the words of Gregg Alexander:
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
We only get what we give