What do you believe you can’t do?
Can you not write songs?
Can you not play guitar?
Can you not be the lead singer of a band?
Can you not land a nightly house gig in Dubai?
If you’ve been on my email list for a while, or you know me in person, hopefully you know that the belief you can’t do something resides squarely in your own head and nowhere else. (Where else is a belief going to reside?)
Even if you feel like your negative belief is justified because you tried something and failed, you are probably still wrong.
Hit songwriter Jason Blume gave a great speech at one of the last Taxi rallies in LA. When he was first writing songs, every single one of them was rejected. For years. But now he’s the one of the only songwriters in the world who has had a hit on the country, R&B, and pop charts at the same time. He encouraged the audience to keep trying to write songs. Even if you don’t believe you can.
Jason told the story of a bird that had been raised in a cage too small to fly. One day, the cage was opened and the bird was freed. But it did not fly out. Why not? It didn’t believe it could fly. It simply didn’t know. But after a few months, the bird finally realized he could fly. This is a true story.
I believed as late as four years ago that I could not write songs. That I simply did not have the ability to. I had tried, a few times, and I just couldn’t figure it out. My friend Panos finally challenged me to write a song a week, of any quality and any length, and suddenly, there I was, writing songs. Many of them were bad, but some were good.
A singer I know through the band Guitar Villians had tried out for band after band, but never landed a position. Not long after she took one of my Rock Band classes, though, she became a lead singer in a band for the first time in her life.
Another singer I know through Guitar Villians was a staid, conservative, shy insurance analyst (or something equally safe and boring). But she’s now one of the biggest rockstar competitors in our big live band karaoke competitions, often sporting a mohawk.
People change, when they try to.
Years ago, I wanted to play an instrument in a band (other than voice). I tried guitar for a few months, but didn’t really take to it. I sort of play keys too, and took a couple lessons but it wasn’t calling to me. I took drum lessons for a year and a half, and really enjoyed it, and I think I wasn’t half bad. But when I tried bass a couple years later, it just fit. Turns out I just needed to try. And keep trying. And keep trying different instruments until I found the one that spoke to me.
If I hadn’t kept trying, I might have concluded that I simply wasn’t the sort of person who would be really good at any instrument other than voice.
And about landing that house gig in Dubai? I almost did, but my duo partner’s lack of a passport prevented us from going. It all turned out for the best, though. (If you’re interested in East Asian musical opportunities, look up Elio Pagliarulo, who books acts in hotels throughout East Asia.)
Whatever it is, JUST TRY. And then try again. And again.