We’ve already looked at structures and the positive snowball effect they can create in your music career.
But what do we do with structures that don’t work?
Should we sit around and cry about them? Go to a therapy session for failed entrepreneurs? Give up on all our hopes and dreams?
Something I learned from author Dr. Robert Anthony is this:
We’re always doing the best we can based on our present level of awareness.
I love that statement, because it tends to bypass our instinct to judge everything as right or wrong.
You are doing the best you can right now based on what you know, your skill level and experience, and the resources available to you. Can you accept that?
When a structure doesn’t work, it’s not a matter of morality, but a matter of integrity.
Look at the second definition of integrity. It should say something along the lines of:
The state of being whole and undivided.
What we’re talking about here is wholeness!
When a structure doesn’t work, it’s missing something. It’s not whole.
Sometimes, putting the right pieces in place will make the structure workable. At other times, it will be necessary to give up the structure and create a new one. Either way, though, we don’t want to get wrapped up in morality. A structure that doesn’t work isn’t bad or wrong, it’s just a structure that doesn’t work!
After years of putting my to-do list on a yellow legal pad, recently, I started creating my to-do list in Evernote again. I had no plans of moving over to Evernote, I didn’t think a digital system would even work for me, but that’s what has integrity in my life right now. I still need to prioritize, organize, and manage my digital to-do list, but everything is searchable, and nothing gets lost. That’s huge when you have as much to do as I do!
Structures are there to be optimized, to be changed, to be replaced. They’re there to serve you, not the other way around. So, don’t make it a matter of morality. Make it a matter of integrity.
“I know that I should be writing something new each week, but I’m not sure what to write about,” my entrepreneur friend shared with me.
She wanted to connect with her email list weekly, but within a week or two of sending emails, she found herself running out of ideas.
Whether it’s songwriting ideas, marketing ideas, email campaign ideas, or otherwise, you can’t have too many ideas. I would advise creating and maintaining an idea repository (I have multiple because I’ve been a little scattered through the years, but my main one is inside Evernote).
And this comes with the caveat that, most of our ideas suck. We need to be reminded of this. We should never get too high off our own supply because that’s how we get ourselves into trouble. There’s an opportunity to practice idea generation to build our idea muscle, and that’s a healthy way of looking at it.
But more to the point, if you aren’t regularly generating new ideas, it’s either because a) you’re not paying attention, or b) you don’t have practices that support you in coming up with fresh ideas.
For instance, I don’t flip through Instagram to see what people are bragging about anymore. I look for “pattern interrupts.” When I see something that forces me to pay attention and stop dead in my tracks, I take note of that, and model the content to create my own. If it worked on me, it’s going to work on others too, right?
Ideas are literally everywhere. Whether you’re watching the news (I’m not a big advocate of this these days), reading blog articles, listening to podcast episodes, or cruising Facebook, if you’re paying attention, you can find ideas.
Now that we’ve established that, let’s talk about practices. What practices can support the ongoing generation of ideas?
Here are the three activities I’ve found most worthwhile:
- Reading. Reading books stimulates all kinds of ideas. It takes my mind in a lot of interesting directions, and if I’m not ready with a pen and paper, I’m going to miss capturing a lot of great thoughts. Reading more broadly and generally can be worthwhile too – magazines, newsletters, and blog articles, while paying attention to headlines, call to actions, copy, and anything else that piques your interest.
- Walking. We all need a break from familiar environments – the home, the office, the rehearsal space… Even the most impeccable, most beautiful spaces can start to feel mundane after a while, and as humans, we crave novelty. Getting out in nature and walking or hiking is a great way to get a break from the same old, same old. It’s also great for your health.
- Speculating on possibilities. I covered this earlier. Speculating on possibilities is something that should be done with your band, your team, or people who are invested in helping you get to where you want to go in music and life. And making that micro-adjustment from “brainstorming” to “speculating on possibilities” makes a big difference.
This isn’t to say there aren’t other worthwhile activities – driving, showering, journaling, and more. But I’ve found the above to be the best use of my time.
So, again, it comes down to two things:
- Paying attention to what’s already around you. Ideas are everywhere. Walt Disney didn’t reinvent the wheel – he took what already had a proven track record, implemented it, and then iterated on it. You don’t need to be an innovator either.
- Developing practices that stimulate ideas. Do what works for you. For me, reading, walking, and speculating on possibilities are among the highest value activities.
And don’t forget to capture your ideas. Your brain is not a reliable storage device.
For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.