017 – A Dull Knife Will Not Cut Through the Noise

017 – A Dull Knife Will Not Cut Through the Noise

Are you feeling tired? Are you exhausted? Are you so far gone that you’re not even tuned into your well-being?

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David shares why a dull knife won’t cut through the noise (and there is more than one way to take this!).


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00:17 – Mental sharpness
00:48 – The importance of rest
01:59 – A dull knife won’t cut
02:39 – The ideal
03:18 – Like a frog being boiled
03:34 – Sometimes it feels unreasonable to take breaks


I’ve been resting for about a week straight, and today, in conversation with others, I discovered that my mental sharpness was off the charts.

And this tells me a couple things. The first is that I don’t know the last time I’ve felt this sharp. So, I’ve been operating at dullness, or a degree of dullness, for quite a while. I don’t even know how long. I don’t know the last time I felt this sharp, which is weird.

The next thing is the importance of rest. Vacations, holidays, breaks, whatever you want to call them. I’ve been calling this my “break” and people go, “I don’t know what that means.” So, I realized I guess I should call it a “holiday” or “vacation.”

I spent a few days in Seattle, but it’s not exactly a getaway. It’s more of a staycation. So, maybe that’s the correct terminology to use here is “staycation.”

Either way, you’ve got to find what’s going to work for you. That might mean taking a week off every quarter, it might mean taking two weeks off in a year, but I don’t know, I feel like two weeks off in a year is almost the minimum.

You just start to feel normal, at least if you’re operating at my level, and the level that some of the other business owners I know. You only start to disconnect and feel normal after about five days. And then the rest of the time you’re sort of sleeping and resting off the fatigue.

Next year I’m looking at a week off every quarter because I think every quarter is going to be intense. I’m going to keep to a schedule that allows me to produce a lot of stuff at a high level.

The last thing is a dull knife, or a dull axe doesn’t cut through much. You can keep pounding and pounding and pounding away and not get anywhere with anything. And a sharp knife just slices through it all. Or a sharp axe.

A sharp knife can slice through all. Share on X

I think about how long I’ve not been operating at full capacity and suddenly it comes into view why I was starting to feel a little bit flat in some of these conversations and why I didn’t feel as effective in my coaching.

It’s like, “Oh yeah, I haven’t been completely present. My body has checked out on its own.”

I think the ideal is still to work at a pace that never leaves you feeling tired, right? The 40- to 60- to 80- or 120-hour workweeks… I don’t even know if you can realistically pull off 120-hour workweeks. I have my reservations and skepticism about that. In the category of question everything, that’s up there.

The ideal is to work at a pace that never leaves you feeling tired. Share on X

But the idea is if you can work about 20 or 15 hours a week, that’s a schedule you can sustain and still be sharp. 40 hours a week. I don’t know. I think at some point you just run out. You’re going to reach a point where you’re not as sharp.

And again, the problem is it’s kind of like a frog being boiled gradually. You don’t notice it until later until you’ve had the opportunity to stop and rest and become present to how dull you’ve been and for how long.

We live in a world where sometimes it feels completely unreasonable to take breaks, doesn’t it? Like, interruptions still show up, people still break boundaries, and there can be financial concerns.

And all this stuff can come up as you’re resting, but when you get back at it, you’ll be way sharper. And you’ll be able to get way more done, way faster.

So, at the end of the day, I think if you want to be high performing, you’ve got to make sure that you’re getting the rest you need.

If you want to perform at a high level, ensure that you're getting the rest you need. Share on X
“I’m Done Trying to be Great”

“I’m Done Trying to be Great”

I’m done trying to be great.

These were the words that came to mind as I sought to complete an item on my to-do list today.

I’d put together a short to-do list before going on break. Nothing crazy, just a few things to help me get organized and prepare for the next six months, which will likely be just as intense as the last.

But running errands wasn’t going exactly as expected. So, I stopped and asked myself: “Is this something I really need to do right now?”

And I soon realized it wasn’t.

“I’m on break. My priority is to disconnect, rest, exercise, and get some sun.”

What I Realized

On my walk, I took some time to think about why my mind was feeding me those words: “I’m done trying to be great.”

And the answer was forthcoming, and much simpler than expected.

I need more rest, and my resilience isn’t at its best. That’s it!

It’s funny how much tiredness and fatigue can affect your mood and state of mind. Sometimes, it isn’t deeply seated trauma from childhood or an all-out spiritual battle. Sometimes it’s just that you’ve had too much caffeine!

What I’m saying is:

It’s altogether too easy to overthink and over-intellectualize everything. Sometimes the answers are right under your nose.

Is This Something I Need to do Right Now?

While reflecting, I also recognized the value of this question.

If you’re an ambitious creative or creator, chances are you have a to-do list a mile long already. Although everyone says to prioritize, this can be tough when you have so many tasks and projects to consider.

What I’m beginning to discover, though, is that about 80% of my list either doesn’t need to be done now or doesn’t need to be done at all.

By that logic, you should only be left with 20% of your list, which you should find easier to prioritize.

If you want to take it a step further, then do as Tim Ferriss does and find the one decision that removes 100. Find and focus on the one thing that will make most if not all others a mere triviality.

But if you do choose this path, know one thing – it may take days, weeks, or even months of thinking and reflection to uncover what that one thing is.

So, Am I Done Trying to be Great?

Well, in a manner of speaking, yes.

I’m done trying to be great when I can’t even be expected to be at, or give, my best.

Those hours are best spent in a cocoon – getting away from electronics, resting, getting some exercise, and bathing in the sun. If the world permits, travel, and pool as well.

This can also be a good time to think and reflect. But only if I’m ready. If I need to give my mind a rest too, I will.

It’s one thing to try to be Superman when you’re at your best, but you’ve got to switch that off while you’re on break. Expectations should be loosed. Surrender and let go. Don’t be hard on yourself.

This seems to create more flow in life, anyway. Things come easier when you aren’t trying so hard. And maybe it’s the best way to live.

Leave greatness to superheroes. Be you because that’s what people are going to be attracted to. Being you is how you will find your unique purpose, voice, and calling. Being you is the magic that attracts all you desire in life.

Being you is the magic that attracts all you desire in life. Share on X
Serenity Sunday

Serenity Sunday

#StrategySunday? No. It’s Serenity Sunday.

Beginning Tuesday, I’m going to be taking a little over a week off.

I already have a to-do list shaping up for the duration of my break, which I will add to, or subtract from, as I see fit.

So far as work is concerned, I will still be publishing daily, but other than that, I will only be handling edits on work already completed.

First and foremost, I’m looking forward to having a bit of time off. I already started offloading a bit mid-May because I was beginning to feel fatigue settle in.

Having come to this point, I don’t think I’m in as bad shape as I originally thought I was, but in preparation for the velocity and volume of coursework and work I have coming up, recharging seems like a wise choice.

I will be making exercise, getting some sun, and resting a priority.

Secondly, this will likely prove an important time of reflection.

I have spent the last year or so experimenting with a variety of platforms and project ideas. And now I’m ready to cull the project list, drop what simply doesn’t make sense to work on anymore, and put more time, energy, and resources into the ones that excite me most while serving a pragmatic function.

I already have some ideas shaping up that I feel excited about, and this is a good reminder that I shouldn’t spend all day every day working. Leaving space allows for new ideas to form.

My reflections from Vernon were important, at least to the extent that I retained a general (rather than specific) set of intentions from that point forward. But I have a feeling what comes out of my reflections during this break will be more laser targeted to current projects and goals.

Thirdly, I will be spending time cleaning up, getting organized, and hopefully getting a new office space set up so that I have a better environment to work, record, and film in.

To this point, I’ve either been working in the kitchen, in the living room on a coffee table (usually quite awkwardly), and sometimes even in bed.

I also like working in coffeehouses at least once per week, but that has mostly been a no-go with rolling lockdown restrictions.

I have a study that has remained unused to this point, so I will either be setting up there, or in the bedroom that I don’t use.

The point is, I need to create a space that I find a joy to work in – one where I can be inspired and comfortable.

At the end of the day, I’m not overly ambitious. If I find the need to spend most of my time laying in bed, so be it. That’s probably what I need most right now.

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Life Update: November 2020

Life Update: November 2020

You know what time it is, don’t you? It’s time for another excellent life update (said with my best Bill & Ted impression)!

Trauma is hell on earth. Trauma resolved is a gift from the gods. – Peter A. Levine

After spending months couped up in the same basement suite, I managed to squeeze in a bit of a break and even a little (safe and cautious) travel in November. Let’s dive right in.

Past Life Updates

Want to get caught up with the last few months? Check out these life updates:

Life Update: October 2020
Life Update: September 2020
Life Update: August 2020
Life Update: July 2020
Life Update: June 2020
Life Update: July 2012

November 2020 in Brief


In some ways, November couldn’t have come soon enough.

I had originally planned to take some time off at the end of October but ended up holding out until the top of November as I needed to get a few things sorted out.

For the most part, taking time off this year has meant staying put (for obvious reasons). Between March and June, I was staying in Calgary at a friend’s house. I took a much-needed break in April, but of course, it was in a basement, where I did most of my work.

In November, I drove about five hours northeast to Vernon, BC, for a two-week break at a motel.

I have always found immense value in changing environment ever so often. Honestly, if I don’t, I can start to feel a little crazy. After all, I work almost entirely from home and have been doing that since 2016.

For the most part, I kept indoors and didn’t venture out. If I did, it was just to the local grocery store or a restaurant. Once I arrived in Vernon, I realized just how tired I still was, despite taking it a little easier in September and October.

So, that was that. I knew I would need to spend the two weeks wisely, which mostly meant lying in bed.

Reflection Time in Vernon

My intention was to spend some time reading, thinking, reflecting, and journaling. I also wanted to talk to my mentors. All of which I did to lesser or greater degrees.

Again, most of my time there was spent resting. But I’ve shared elsewhere about my key takeaways, so it seems indulgent to go on about them here.

To summarize, I got a little clearer on my direction, and I am also embracing my identity in a more meaningful way.

Getting Back into the Groove

My two weeks in Vernon came to an end rather rapidly. It does not diminish the time spent there or the clarity gained. And again, it was nice to have a change of scenery.

Of course, after every break, there is always something to return to. And it was time for me to return to my work here on Music Entrepreneur HQ as well as my staff writing duties at Music Industry How To.

It seems two weeks off did some good for Music Entrepreneur HQ, even though I didn’t publish anything for three weeks. Affiliate sales started happening again. Books started selling again.

And I attribute most of this growth to getting out of a frustration cycle – something we all experience at times.

The trip home, however, was treacherous to say the least. The roads between Princeton and Hope were slushy, and it was raining besides.

This would not have been a big deal if you could see the lanes, and if both lanes were safe to drive on. But for the most part, they weren’t. You were best served following the well-worn path in the middle, where other drivers had already gone.

This would have been danger enough. But amid all that, transport trucks were passing, speeding by, kicking up blinding amounts of slush on other people’s windshields, and taking off like they were entitled, without confirming anyone’s safety.

Sadly, this is the wont of BC drivers, but seriously. I think we should be a little more careful on those roads. They do not belong to truck drivers.

Rant: Don’t Make Me Laugh

I’ve seen some memes going around saying “talking about music is like dancing around architecture.” My life work has been sharing my musical and entrepreneurial journey and helping musicians and creatives create the life they love through music.

If you deem this superfluous or unnecessary, fine, I will not count it for loss. I will find something else to do and I have the capacity to do so, but I have always believed that anyone in any competitive space, creativity, business, sports, or otherwise, benefits from tips and advice, open discussion, guidance, and coaching.

I think talking about music is more vital than ever. We need bloggers, reviewers, journalists, magazines, newspapers, podcasters, YouTubers, and all publications talking about music. And we need it now. We drastically underestimate the power, reach, and traffic some of these publications get. Musicians should get their fair share of the pie and they should get it, not because of a sense of entitlement, but as result of deserving it.

And we need more music and discussions about music than ever – covering every shade of topic, belief, and political perspective imaginable. We need music celebrating the times we’re in. We need music protesting the times we’re in. We need music that expresses the pain of depression and isolation. The world should be saturated with meaningful, thought-provoking music that guides people, challenges people, and allows people to interpret and understand the times we’re in, right or wrong.

We need more music and discussions about music than ever. Share on X

We should have assenting and dissenting opinions. We should not celebrate a closed system. We should not take our rights and freedoms for granted. We should be allowed to share what we honestly think is going on. We should be allowed to share our version of truth, as we see it, even if we are wrong.

And that should unite us, not divide us. Differences should be appreciated and loved. Common ground should be established. We should not wish for another to die, no matter how much we disagree with them. At the end of the day, most of us want what’s best for everyone involved, I promise. It’s just that we’ve failed to recognize the goodness that exists on either side of the so-called political spectrum.

Do not stop making music. Do not give up on music. We need it more than ever. We should not stop talking about music either. And I’m not saying we need to go on and on about theory, and chord progressions, and what guitars you’re using. That’s not the point. Talking about music is important because it’s a vital artform. And it expresses things that cannot otherwise be expressed. It expresses the invisible. The movement of culture and of life. The voice that has no expression.

Keep debates. But stop arguments. Understand the importance of these times, and the urgency of them. This is not a time to hold back. This is not a time to give up. This is not a time to give in. You’ve got something to say, and what cannot be said in the written or spoken word can be said in music. But they are both important.

Talking about music is not dancing around architecture. It’s exposure. It’s empowerment. It’s hope. And right now, we need hope.

Talking about music is not dancing around architecture. It’s exposure. It’s empowerment. It’s hope. And right now, we need hope. Share on X

New Music in November 2020

Spirit Searcher, Vol. 1 is still my latest (collaborative) release.

Spirit Searcher, Vol. 1

As always, I appreciate your support. You can listen on Spotify or purchase a CD on Amazon.

You can also get the CD version of my No Escape EP on Amazon.

New Podcast Episodes in November 2020

As noted, November was not a big month in terms of content, but the following podcast episode went live at the end of the month:

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts >>

Featured Product: The Music Entrepreneur Code

The Music Entrepreneur Code

Did you get your copy of The Music Entrepreneur Code yet?

You can purchase the special PDF edition of the book here.

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Medium Stats November 2020

My Medium traffic in November was steady, but not on the up and up as it had been in October. But October was a bit of an anomaly.

As I sit here typing this in December, I’m finally beginning to figure out the “trick” with Medium, if there is one, and to that extent, I have a better strategy and a more consistent habit overall.

As always, I appreciate you following me on Medium and tapping the “clap” button a few times on my stories. It helps a lot, even if you don’t read every story in its entirety.

Thanks for your support.

Follow me on Medium >>

Final Thoughts

And now we are caught up with life updates. Of course, December is already halfway over, so I will be back with another one soon.

I hope you had an excellent November, and if not, I wish you a better December.

Stay safe and don’t forget to leave a comment.