008: When Opportunity Knocks
When opportunity knocks you need to make sure you’re listening. With all the noise in the world these days - the constant flow of information and being inundated by social media feeds - it’s so easy to be ‘connected’ but very hard to ‘connect’ to what truly matters. We tend to simply move from one stimulus to another without taking time to think about what is being presented to us. So how can we short circuit this system and be more aware of opportunities? By being judgemental. Or more specifically, by recognizing when we are being overly critical of others. If you can do that, you’ll be ready when opportunity knocks.
I truly believe that in general, and especially in the music community, people are supportive of others and want to see them succeed. In our industry you see this at conferences and at festivals - musicians supporting other musicians and being excited when they excel at what they do. But regardless of that, we all have moments when we are judgemental of others - it’s human nature and not something we should overly criticize ourselves on. You shouldn’t dwell on these judgemental thoughts and you shouldn’t act on them in a way that hurts others. But you should recognize when they pop into your head. Ignoring these moments and trying to pretend they don’t happen is avoiding a chance for you to personally grow.
So how do we take advantage of our judgmental tendencies and use them to grow ourselves? The first step is to realize that when you are being critical of someone you are most likely just projecting. You’re seeing your own faults in the other person and attributing those faults to them so you don’t have to recognize them in yourself. Next time you’re watching someone perform and the thoughts start popping into your head - ‘their stage banter is falling flat’, ‘they don’t look like they are into the performance’, ‘they seem unprepared’ - take note, mentally or actually jot them down so you can think about them later. Next time you’re upset with how disorganized someone you’re dealing with is, take note. Next time you find yourself thinking that someone didn't ‘earn’ the success they are receiving, take note.
When you have some down time to reflect on these thoughts, look at your notes and the judgement you were projecting onto others and shine that light back on yourself. How is your stage banter? Are you truly happy with it or does it need work. Are you engaged when performing? Or are you just going through the motions. How prepared are you for your live shows? Can you do better? Can you be better organized? When you shine this light back on yourself it requires you do address your weaknesses and look for ways to improve them. Being judgemental and projecting is an easy way to avoid our faults - because we don’t own them, we give them to someone else. If you want to reach another level and ‘earn’ the success others are receiving, you need to address your weaknesses not simply play to your strengths.
Opportunity is not about just waiting for great things to come your way - it’s about creating optimal conditions for great things to happen. When you start to notice what you are projecting on others and work on these things yourself, you are working to create these conditions. Opportunity knocks in many ways - when it’s giving you hints on the things you should be working on, make sure to listen. You’ll be surprised how quickly these efforts can lead to greater things. Always be working on yourself so you’ll be ready when the next opportunity comes knocking!