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Five-Step Pep Talk

half-glass - Pyragraph
Photo by Bailey Weaver.

Half of success is attitude, right? You’ve got your skills honed, now how about addressing that glass-is-half-empty perspective? You know it’s not going to get you anywhere. This here is your five-step pep talk to get the jobs done—and get more jobs too.

1. Have self-confidence and follow through.

If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either. Do your work with conviction and authenticity, and what is more, be true to your word. You don’t have to be a perfectionist, you just have to do what you say you are going to do. As Thom Yorke sings, “You can try the best you can. The best you can is good enough.”

2. Flexibility.

Stretch your skill set out. Don’t be afraid to try something new. If someone asks you to do work at a thing you’re not really proficient at, just let them know that this is new, but you are willing to try. If it’s paid work, let your client know, and perhaps offer them a discount. It generally makes people happy to know they are saving money. You may find yourself using this new skill again.

3. Diversity.

Break through old patterns. Get a piece of paper and two different colored pens. Write down a list of all of the types of venues you are playing at (or jobs you have, or galleries you’re showing at, or what have you). Then, with another color pen, write down the “dream” gigs you want. Research whom to contact at those “dream” places and do that outreach. Introduce and market yourself,  even if it seems like a total stretch. You wrote it down on your list, didn’t you? If you’re not prepared for this step, do what it takes to get ready first, and then make contact. Use your skill from #1 and just do it.

4. Keep it fresh.

Don’t get stuck doing the same old tricks. Learn new tunes; write new pieces; make new products that veer away from your familiar styles. Try this: Think ahead for a target season or theme and create new work with a subject in mind. Give yourself an assignment, like: I must write a waltz.

5. Have patience and diligence.

Take time to put your name/product/work out there. Persevere. Just one or two times may not get the attention of the person you are trying to reach. Follow up (and perhaps find another name at the same venue). Be patient with the outcome, but also persistent, and don’t worry about if you fail or not.

“I think you have to try and fail, because failure gets you closer to what you’re good at.” —Louis C.K.

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