“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
-George Bernard Shaw
To move forward, you must first face and conquer your fears. There is no simple path. The road to success is littered with potholes. It’s not going to be easy but it’s not supposed to be. If success were easy, what would we have to shoot for? There are countless more quotes reiterating these sentiments.
To get where you want to go you, must be persistent. If you have a bad day and don’t feel like working on your dream or completing what you had planned, that’s ok but take a baby step that day. The importance lies in that you always move forward, even if that baby step is closer to a turtle step. Just don’t be stagnant.
Two nights ago, I had a gig in New York City. A friend asked me to play bass in his band very last minute. Mind you I’m not a bass player and I don’t live in New York. Every voice in my head told me no.
You’re a guitar player, you haven’t played bass since the 6th grade
You don’t live near the band; how will you rehearse?
How are you going to learn 8 songs in 2 days?
Everyone’s going to laugh at you when you mess up.
I swiftly told myself to shut up and agreed to play. There was some uncertainty about how I’d pull it off but I’d cross those paths as they come. Given the location problem, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to rehearse with the band. What I could do was listen to the songs on repeat and practice them on bass when I had free time. That all sounded like a smooth plan to me but nothing goes as planned. I ended up not getting the songs until the day before the show. Two of the songs I knew but the others were foreign objects to my musical repertoire.
Two days before the gig was spent listening to the songs on repeat. No bass. Listen, listen, listen. The day before I whipped out the bass and started to play along. This wasn’t going to be easy. My hands were not used to the tension of bass strings. It was going to take a bit to warm up. Finally, I started grooving and I spent the next 12 hours repeatedly playing the songs. I played them so much that I reached a point where my brain shut off. That was when it was time to sleep.
Day of the show I woke up early to rehearse a bit more before my bus ride to Manhattan. The bus ride was spent writing out mental cues to help me remember what song was what on the set-list. Of course, there would be another curveball thrown my direction making the voice inside my head scream louder to not go through with it.
The strap buckle on my bass which holds the strap on allowing you play while standing fell off. It needed emergency surgery to make it playable so I took it to a guitar shop near the venue and they told me they’d have it ready by show-time. This meant I wouldn’t be able to practice at all in the time leading up to the show. More panic.
There was a lot of time to kill before the gig so I decided to walk around and clear my head. I found respite in a coffee shop where I read the newspaper, had lunch and did everything but think about the songs. My subconscious knew them better than I thought and it was time to give my brain a rest.
I finally got the bass back in time for the gig. A mentor of mine told me not to focus on other people, there’s 8 billion people in the world, one mistake will not result in an awful tragedy. He told me to laugh, fake it even, because it produces the same chemicals as happiness (try this, you may look crazy but it works). Most importantly, focus on what you need to do and tune out everything that doesn’t matter, breathe and have fun.
Fast forward to show time and I walked confidently up to the stage, took a few deep breaths, told the last voice to shut up and not tell the band you have a stomach ache and bail and we started.
The whole show was a blur. A blur of absolute happiness and bliss. That wave hasn’t left. I still feel great. It was such a pivotal event for me because I conquered my own voice of doubt. It provided me with a supreme confidence boost. It was not an easy 2 days to prepare but the road to success is not easy! Without that level of fear and persistence in the face of difficulty, I would have never made it. The songs wouldn’t have been learned and I would have made a fool out of myself and let the band down.
I am now going to apply this concept to all aspects of life. If you want to get somewhere it isn’t going to be easy. It’s probably going to suck a lot putting in the work but once that thing, whatever it may be, comes to fruition and all the hard work and suffering is over I promise you’ll never feel better!