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[ Sep 5, 2015 ]
The one that got away.
When I was quite young I worked in a corporate environment bank/computer company.
Whilst I was working on a particularly interesting project I couldn’t help but notice some of the rather glib type posters they had on the wall. All to inspire more from the staff. Most of the time they just encouraged rude comments about management from the workers. Most of which should not be repeated in polite company but most of it was accurate. As I am now a musician, not a corporate person you can probably guess how I felt about these cheesy corporate mantras. My attitude did, however, stop me from seeing quality.
Sure, most of it was the sort of stuff you scrape of your shoe before going indoors but amongst all this was a real pearl of wisdom and I missed it. Well, I missed it for awhile and by a while, I mean years rather than months. The saying was “There is no such thing as a problem, they are all just opportunities”. My life experience to that date had pretty much been watching people run from problems, practice the blame game or perhaps just use the old sidestep the issue trick to avoid problems. I, therefore, wrote the saying off as hypocritical and I was too busy being a young rebel to really think about it properly.
Fortunately for me, I have worked with some good people and one of these people was an extremely talented programmer from Australia. We were having a meal after solving another tricky computing problem. I shared on how much these problems freaked me out and he said to me. “Problems are a good thing in computing, that’s how you learn. I quite like problems they are interesting”. Just as well I managed to find him heaps of problems. His point though is strong. Problems are how he got so clever problems are opportunities.
What other opportunities slip us by? Sometimes being too focused on any one given thing or as I like to put it. Over-planned. This can really blind us to good opportunities. Several times I have been so focused on one project that I have even declined good opportunities to work with some quality musicians. What a Muppet!!. Technically, I missed out on some exciting bands and interesting compositional projects. Just because I was too focused on my plan and not going with the flow of the opportunities coming my way. Being flexible and aware can really help you seize opportunities.
Fortunately, I have had plenty of fun adventures in music over the years. Most of them when I had the courage to take the plunge and so many of them better than imagined. It is also useful for me though to look back and see how I messed up. I have some exciting creative projects to come and keeping freer and more open should help me perform better.
Now, this brings us to opportunities in our art. Well, how we practice is a very quick example. When performing your music How often do you think to yourself? “ Oh oo here comes the tricky bit” or perhaps my favorite “ I must practice that bit before next time” or the age-old favorite “arghhhh……”. These are the problems in our playing these problems tell us where to spend our practice time and if we do spend our time on our problems or weaknesses if you like we will perform much better.
Likewise, we can think of being too focused on your intention in your creative process. Almost fighting with yourself rather than letting the story come out. Disturbing your flow because in your mind you have a certain, harmony, rhythm, tune or even form type structure in mind. And while they are in your mind they are in the way of your creativity. Lately, with my writing, I have let improv change my chord structures to go with the mistakes I have just made. Rather than have a pre-judgment on the chord I have hit because it isn’t the one I had chosen. I have listened and thought to myself “o That’s handy that sounds really yummy”. The improvement is huge all because I am getting out of my own way.
I highly recommend it.
Until next time
Although discovering our habits can be a little depressing. Consider the process an expression of learning and how that learning can be used in our art.