I'm close to tears...

Last night I had a dream. In my dream I was talking to my wife and she said "I know what we could do to make this better. You could work on your timing." I then experienced a series of cutaways where I was just crying to different people saying "I can't do one more thing."

So the obvious analysis is I am overworked. The subtext though was in the comment, specifically the lead off of what we as a team could do better, and then the solution was what I needed to do.

This goes back to an earlier part of my blog where i wrote about engaging others. The collective has an idea, and then the work falls to one person to do it. However, this is not what I want to write about today. Today I want to write about taking care of yourself. One of the most important parts of leadership, that is usually the last thing we focus on.

Artists are trained in the art of discipline. We are taught the skills of being successful, which means practicing four hours a day. No matter what. When you're focusing on two areas it gets even more daunting. When I was an undergrad playing bass and composing it was hours upon hours of practicing bass and writing music. I would often save my composing for the night, sometimes staying up until 2:00am writing music. I would then wake up around 7:00 and the grind would start all over.

Another concept we learn is if you turn down the gig you may not be asked again. So we say yes. To everything. When you make your money in the arts you are typically living paycheck to paycheck, and each one matters. You can't risk saying no because you may not know when your next one is coming. 

This type of discipline leads us to the understanding that things need to get done, and we need to step up and do it, even if it's not fun. Do you know what artists are rarely taught? How to say no. So we become artists in this viscous cycle of practicing all the time, never turning down a gig, never getting a good nights sleep, never eating well, etc., etc. 

One day after playing a bunch of restaurant jazz gigs (a.k.a. background music), I realized I was not enjoying myself while playing the tune Giant Steps. That's when I realized there was a problem. This is one of the most enjoyable standards there is to play and if I was bored playing it then I was doing something wrong. I was doing too much, and so I stopped. I turned down restaurant gigs for a long time after that. I had to learn to take care of myself, because if I was feeling burned out and I wasn't even 20 there was a problem. Although I started turning down gigs, and reshaping the way I composed and practiced, something amazing happened. I still got better, and I still got work. I was doing more of the things I enjoyed and less of the stuff I didn't.

So the moral of this long winded blog? Saying no is good, taking care of yourself is good, and opportunities will still be there. 


This photo needs no caption.

This photo needs no caption.