I was originally thinking about calling this post “Dealing With Rejection” but after putting some thought into it, I decided that it was reactive instead of proactive. And being proactive is what success is all about. More on that later.
But first, let’s get metaphysical. Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, there are some things about being human that have been confirmed by science. One of these things is that we are all made up of energy and energy never dies as it can’t be physically destroyed. As a being of energy, you are essentially applying your energy in the world. That direction may be positive or negative at any given moment, but whichever it is, you will be essentially amplifying the direction. That energy may also be mental or physical energy as well. When you decide you want to pursue a music career, that’s mental energy. When you actually reach out and begin the process of making your music, that’s the manifestation of your thoughts, or mental energy, being turned into physical energy. Sometimes thoughts stay as thoughts, but typically those thoughts need to be turned into physical actions for them to become reality. This is important to remember because it can be easy to be led down the wrong path by people or things that are not well-intentioned or aligned with your goal. There’s a reason why the saying “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” is a thing.
Because this process happens on many levels- directly and indirectly, consciously and unconsciously- it’s important to practice awareness of what’s going on in your head. That’s often referred to these days as ‘mindfulness’ but I like to think of it as just being more connected to your thoughts. The more connected you are, the more in control you become of your plans, choices, actions, and reactions.
And this brings us to resilience. For most people resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity or setbacks. Becoming an expert at turning these setbacks into positive experiences is a Jedi level of resilience. But simply being aware of the fact that setbacks are inevitable is one of the best ways to deal with them. Because then you won’t be as blindsided by them.
Now when it comes to rejection, we’re basically talking about the other side of the same coin. First of all, while pursuing music or the arts, rejection is the rule, not the exception. Being successful as a music artist will be a long line of ups and downs. Progress is never a straight line. The better equipped you are on the mental side of the journey, the more resilient you will be during the setbacks.
Pursuing a music career is also a huge risk. You will encounter people that don’t believe in your ability to be successful and simply aren’t strong enough or courageous enough to deal with the risk that comes with it. That rejection might take different forms. It might come as someone that isn’t interested in your work professionally, it might come in challenges with your personal life, or it might come in financial challenges.
Every success story is different. You shouldn’t compare your progress to other people. You should only measure your own progress. That said, every person’s experiences are different and every person is built with different levels of tolerance, and that’s ok. It’s a very personal experience when your resilience is activated and only you can manage it in the face of rejection or unforeseen challenges.
In my experience I’ve learned that the best approach with resilience is to anticipate what’s coming. This is where learning from those who have traveled this path before you is essential. Starting out as a musician, songwriter, and recording artist, and now a music producer, I can can tell you that everyone is a student. You are always learning no matter what level you’re at. Even the biggest and most successful artists are the ones that continue to learn and evolve if they’re to stay relevant and innovative. And you’ll want to cultivate that skill set as well. As it applies to being more resilient, this process should go something like this:
1. Ask questions. Seek advice and information.
2. Break down each process into smaller actions.
3. Focus on small, daily wins.
4. If today is not looking like a win, then know that tomorrow or the next day will be an opportunity to start fresh.
5. Regroup and think of what you learned, and pursue realistic but ambitious options to tackle the challenge.
6. Repeat the entire process.
If you start looking at creating your reality with this basic road map, then you’ll start to see the progress pile up over time. Whether you’re trying to be a successful artist or building a billion dollar company. There’s a saying in the music industry that “every overnight success takes at least five years”. So realize that you will have ups and downs on the journey. Some of the challenges you face will simply be outside of your control. But what you can control is your ability to soldier on, pick yourself up, get back on the horse and keep moving. That’s resilience.