EP11 - Moving Towards Winning

We all have setbacks, losses, and failures.

When that happens I NEVER tell myself I need to work harder to win the next time.

I think winning is something else entirely. It goes far beyond the next attempt.


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Hey, it's Chris, and today I wanted to talk about how you handle criticism for your music. 

So, I was just on a coaching call for my course, The Art Of The Song Pitch, and we're doing a module called the Vetting Module, and it's about putting together a listening group. Those are the people who are going to help you figure out where your music belongs (in which shows movies and ads).

So, essentially, we did this exercise, and I did the coaching call and one of my students came on and she said, “Chris, I got this really negative feedback about my song. I don't know how to handle it. Do you have any advice?” 

So, I thought about this and the best example I can come up with is something that happened to me.

So, before music I was actually a fencer. So I used to fence, (saber, you know - fencing, not building fences). And so I used to go to competitions and all of that stuff.

So, it's such an investment to pay for these competitions. After the training, all the investment there, you'd have to pay hotel and food and the time to go there. And I was in high school sometimes taking days off to fly somewhere to compete. 

And you'd only have a short window at the competition to make things happen. Because you'd basically be in a pool of fencers. And you'd have to win three out of the five bouts (is what they were called) to move up into the next class and then to the semi-finals, and then finally to the finals. So, you really had to be on your game, not unlike you playing live. 

For example - all the songwriting and the investment of time and effort that it takes to put everything together and get the people up to your show and all of that stuff. And then you go there, once you're on stage, once you hit your first chord, there's no turning back. There's no stopping and rewinding. There's no undo button. It is what it is. You have an “on” day. You have an “off” day. 

When I was fencing with all of that in a similar way to you guys playing live, I was crushed sometimes if I was having my “off” day. If I lost something I thought I should have won or something happened in such a short period of time. You know, fencing is sometimes called “chess at a hundred miles an hour” and if you just weren't on it, and you lost, it was just such a horrible feeling. You feel like giving up or like, “Why am I doing this? Why am I putting all of this effort into this type of thing?”

I ended up moving on and fortunately was able to win the Canadian Junior Championships twice in a row. So, everything turned out well for me in the end. But on the way, on that path, there were many times where I thought, “Man, I'm not cut out for this. I should think of doing something else.”

I found a philosophy that really helped me get through the hard times, and that was the idea that the one competition, or even the one bout that you're in and trying to win is not the end all of anything, right? It's the whole career. It's your whole fencing career.

So, for you in music, it's not about one gig that you're going to get or one rejection, or somebody says something bad about your song or something like that. It's about your whole career. 

So, all of those little, what we call “failures” or “losses” are really detours along the way, because don't forget, you're learning every time that it happens. You're learning about yourself. You're getting better because you went there and actually competed or got on stage and played, or whatever it is that you're talking about. You did something to do that. You've got that under your belt now, right? 

It didn't work out that day. That's the way things go. The trick is not just saying, “I'm gonna stick with it and work harder,” which most people say. For me, what worked better was imagining my whole career as one motion, the one movement that I was doing with whatever I was doing in fencing or any other thing I was doing in my life. 

So, I coined that in my mind as “moving towards winning.” I was always moving towards winning. 

So, think about that with your music. Think about that with everything that you do. Move towards winning.

No matter what happens, be a pinball in a pinball machine. You know, just bounce off and keep going. Okay? Move towards winning.


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