I am currently reading Seth Godin’s new book The Practice: Shipping Creative Work. I’m about 50 pages in and just want to yell PREACH after every single section. In short, he talks about our work as a practice. The practice (showing up every day and consistently) is the most important component in every endeavor.
As musicians, we have heard this before, hopefully. The process and the practice are the important things to focus on, the result will come. But how often do we still expect the outcome to go our way? Much more than we probably want to.
Our expectations for what the outcome should be based on “where we are” in our career or lives is something that can get us down so much of the time. Seth in so many amazing words (so far) has talked about the importance of not only creating something on a daily basis but putting it out into the world on a daily basis.
As someone who has more index cards than she can handle on her desk filled with ideas for blog posts, videos, podcast episodes, classes/seminars, materials, etc. I have much less output than I have ideas.
Seth Godin has been writing a daily blog for the past 20 years (over 7,00 posts!), talk about a practice. He says about half of them are not very good, but the consistency of the output is what he was after.
In the book, he offers an anecdote in which he goes to learn how to fly-fish with some of his friends. He didn’t much like the idea of catching the fish so he decided to use a fly without a hook, thought confusing to the instructor, it relieved all expectation of ever catching the fish. He was able to focus on the task at hand, which after all was learning the physical process and rhythm of fly-fishing. He wasn’t distracted by the expectation to catch a fish because it literally wasn’t possible.
He realized the catching of the fish was merely the side effect of casting well. If only we had this same clarity in every moment in our lives. Can we let go of expectations as we practice? I have written a blog post about practice room frustration, but in case you haven’t read it yet, it is all about how our expectations create our frustration. If we don’t expect an outcome or a timeline in which we “should” accomplish things, the frustration dissipates.
Some of you may be thinking, but then how do you set goals and accomplish things? In auditions and competitions, it is hard not to think about winning. Believing you can in is also fundamental to this process, but what if our focus was creating the highest quality performance possible? Not only that, what if we focused on making our process of the highest quality? In other words, what if our practice process was what we were trying to perfect/improve? Wouldn’t that most highly align with our goals of a solid and consistent performance? We have literally no control of the outcome anyway, whether we worry about it or not. So, how much more headspace would you have if you didn't worry about the outcome?
So much food for thought here, but I have 100% drank the Kool-aid and have now decided to put something I created out into the world (internet) every day for the next year. And I’m starting today, Saturday, November 7, 2020. I’m deliberately not “waiting till Monday” like I normally would because that would be more perfect somehow? I’m not waiting till next week or next month. I’m starting today, with this blog post!
Am I excited? Yes! Am I terrified? Yes! Will all of it be good? NO. (And that's okay.)
“The only choice we have is to begin. And the only place to begin is where we are. Simply begin. But begin. Imogen Roy helps us understand that effective goals aren’t based on the end result: they are commitments to the process. That commitment is completely under your control, even if the end result can’t be.” - Seth Godin
And wouldn’t we want to have a little more control over something in this crazy world?