Are you worthy? I’m asking because too often the driving energy behind creative work is the desire to prove ourselves—to prove our worth.
If we scratch below the surface, there may be the belief that we are unworthy. That we are not deserving, that we are not good enough. And for many, there’s the feeling that we can never be good enough.
Of course all of us are striving for an ideal in our performances, teaching, or coaching. Creative challenges and stretch goals are terrific. But it’s the motivation behind this that may be a problem.
There can be an unhealthy aspect to ‘proving oneself,’ to the need for external validation and approval.
I see it play out with musicians when it comes to advancing their careers. As we work on promotional materials, networking, booking concerts, audition preparation, and more. The elephant in the room is self-worth.
The problem may show up as procrastination or avoidance. We may stay busy and safe in our comfort zones and never seem to get around to editing our promo materials. Or we put off drafting the grant proposal and miss the deadline. We delay starting our “dream” project, telling ourselves we’re not ready. And we say to ourselves maybe next month or next year. Maybe never.
Or the problem may present itself in our approach. We do the career work but we “hide.” This can be putting up a false front based on what we think we’re supposed to do and be.
We write a bio that’s a boring list of our credentials interspersed with clichés, because that’s how it’s done. Or we get promo shots that show us looking like “just another emerging artist,” instead of showing who we really are. And we build (or have someone build for us) a “professional looking” website representing how we think we should present ourselves. None of it conveys who we really are or why we do what we do.
Instead of doing the harder work we settle for what we think others expect from us—in our attempt to prove that we’re OK, that we’re worthy.
I call this hiding.
When I was working on the third edition of Beyond Talent, my own “hiding” showed up as avoiding writing honestly and directly about my own challenges with managing the emotional roller coaster of a career in music. At its worst, I’d find myself editing my own work with a combination of fear, self-loathing, and the wish to please others. All in the misguided attempt to make the writing (and me) “good enough.” OUCH.
OK, so what does it take to change this, to stop hiding, procrastinating, and avoiding?
It takes courage
It takes dropping our false front and our excuses and becoming more honest and open, more authentically ourselves.
In working with clients I use a series of self-reflective exercises to help them clarify their “WHY.” We look for stories from their past that illustrate their WHY. And then we work on ways to weave these into their promotional materials, their networking, their proposals and pitches. The goal is not to prove their worth or protect their ego—it’s to convey their truth.
For my own writing, I apply the same reflective approach. I stop and ask myself, “What are you really trying to say here?” and “Is that what you REALLY mean?”
Here’s the fab Brené Brown, the vulnerability researcher, in conversation with Oprah. Brené talks about courage and how our egos and fear prevent us from becoming our best selves. A quick, inspiring 4:05.
Courage is not about being fearless. It’s about feeling the fear and moving into and out the other side to our better self.
Musicians need courage to . . .
stop trying to prove ourselves worthy.
get outside our comfort zones.
reflect on who we really are and convey this to others.
connect with other people authentically.
send proposals and pitches that reflect our authentic selves and our WHY.
move ahead in our careers and become more of who we really are.
Bonus: here’s my favorite speech of all time. No it’s not Shakespeare, but well worth the :42 seconds.
[Best line ever: What puts the ‘ape’ in apricot?]
Challenge: What’s one small but courageous act you can take today?
So, Are you worthy? Hell, yeah. Let’s activate more courage for musicians.
I’d love to hear what you choose to do and how it feels—let me know so I can send back my congratulations!
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well!