Let me tell you a story about a musician . . . a terrific violinist I’ll call Chris, who came to me because her career had hit a plateau. She was doing OK: she played with some excellent new music ensembles and had a solid teaching job. But she was frustrated that her fears and self-doubt were preventing her from stepping into the career chapter she really wanted. She was stalled and seemed unable (or unwilling) to book her own solo concerts and promote her duo.
So our plan was to work on upgrading her promotional materials: her website, promo video, photos, and bio. And then we’d focus on overhauling her email pitches and target list so she could book more of the performances she wanted. Sounded very do-able, right?
Learning to tell a different story
You might imagine this kind of marketing-focused project is pretty straight forward. That we’d construct a professional ‘image’ to ‘puff up’ Chris’ brand.
But actually, the work I do is essentially about helping musicians get clear about who they really are. And what they truly want. And that can be a hero’s journey in itself.
Through coaching conversations, and reflective written exercises, I worked with Chris to uncover and communicate her core story. What drives her as a musician.
My aim is to help my clients make their promotional materials more human, more memorable, and more effective at engaging audiences.
Finding your core story is a process of self-discovery, one that often stirs up Resistance.
Articulating your core true story requires getting vulnerable. And this often brings up Resistance. It’s our fear of being judged, of not comparing well or fitting in with our peers. And it may include the fear of disappointing ourselves, or of not living up to what our teachers and parents thought was our destiny.
With Chris, her symptoms of Resistance showed up as avoiding working on her bio. We’d make progress in the coaching sessions, but she wouldn’t follow through with the “homework.” And to be clear, this is the bio work that only the musician herself can do because she’s the expert on her own stories and her motivation.
Chris had all kinds of excuses for not working on her bio—everything else was taking precedence. She even had some selective amnesia about what she’d agreed to do for our next coaching sessions.
It’s an all too human response: avoiding self-promotion
After weeks of procrastinating, Chris finally told me, “When I even think about working on my bio, I get this awful sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.” She said, “Then my mind starts racing, and I can’t focus. All I can see is how much I haven’t accomplished. I compare myself to musicians I went to school with and I feel like a failure.”
Yep, I know what that’s like, with our self-esteem gremlins running riot and preventing us from moving outside our comfort zones.
So what did we do? We focused on telling Chris’ real story.
We had to get Chris past thinking that her bio was supposed measure up to anyone else’s. She needed to short-circuit the negative self-judgment loop that had her focused on trying to be “good enough.”
Chris agreed to pay attention to her self-talk and label it whenever she heard her negative self-judgments. And she agreed to start noticing how she was using social media as a form of self-flagellation. You can’t change what you’re unaware of.
Then, I taught Chris a Tool to get herself out of the negative self-judgment. And another tool to get past her procrastination so she could focus on the bio work and get it done.
She needed to stop trying to “prove herself” and instead tell the truth
Instead of worrying about not having the “right awards” or the “right venues” to list, we focused on what Chris HAD done. In sessions, I got her telling me about the multi-disciplinary projects she’s loved doing and how her audiences responded.
Then, by highlighting these creative projects, detailing her surprising repertoire, and inspiring collaborations, her bio started to come to life. It was as though the real Chris was finally coming into focus on the page.
And yes, she got more bookings as a result of our work, but there’s something even better she gained.
Through this process, Chris started to see herself in a new light. She was now standing taller, and networking with more confidence. And this bled over into her artistry—her performances were more confident, too.
Who’d have thought that working on your bio could improve your music-making?
But yeah, it can. It’s all connected.
And there was an added career bonus Chris gained. While we were in the middle of all this, when Chris had just begun sending out pitches for more concerts, something unexpected happened. Out of the blue, Chris got offered an excellent teaching job at another school. It was a real step up from where she’d been teaching.
Was it simply a coincidence? Or, is it that . . .
“Luck” finds you when you’re in forward motion
This is the idea captured in the saying Fortune Favors the Bold. The way I see it, Chris’ good fortune wasn’t an accident.
Luck can find us when we take initiative, and get outside our comfort zones, and start telling our truth. That’s how we get unstuck in our careers and move into forward motion. We connect with more people and with greater ease. So we’re more likely to show up on people’s radar screens, with our positive confidence. When you put forth good energy into the universe, it’s as though the universe smiles back at us with opportunities.
It’s an amazing thing to witness. I get to see my clients step forward into their best selves—and then see what they’re capable of creating—with the universe conspiring in their favor.
It’s tremendously rewarding and it’s why I love doing this work.
If you’d like help getting into forward motion with your career, I’ve got one last spot open in my Power Group starting next month. To schedule a time to talk and see if you’re a fit for the program, click HERE.
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well