Lately I’ve been learning more and more how destructive the word “can’t” can be in our vocabularies as musicians, or just as human beings with dreams and desires. The world tells us that we can’t constantly. We can’t look like this, we can’t be that talented, we can’t do what someone else has done, we can’t do something as well as someone else does… and so on. Those messages get pounded into our minds constantly especially when you’re a musician. You feel like your personality is tied up in your talents, and it’s easy to start focusing on all of things that you don’t do super well, and then you become down about yourself, and before you know it you’re in a destructive pattern that’s going to lead you into the “I can’t” hole. I’ve been there, and I’m here to tell you that you literally can do whatever you want.
Without sounding like Chris Farley doing a motivational speech about a van, you really CAN do whatever you choose to do, if you have a plan, the tools, and the desire to execute the plan that you have. Here’s my deal, I believe that the plans I come with in my life are from God, but even if you don’t believe that, say you think it’s just chance, well chance is just chance, unless you have a plan. Truthfully some of my best laid plans end up not working, and that is usually in God’s plan, but what I learn along the way of those “failures” are usually the things that land me the best things I’ve ever gotten in my life. My wife is a perfect example of that… I had to be a failure at many relationships before I got it right, and when I got it right, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. So now I’m thankful for those times when I wasn’t successful.
The same holds true in my music career. People have this funny perspective that I’ve come out of nowhere, that one day I was hanging out at home hoping that I’d get a big gig, and then magically it just happened. If you could hear me laughing right now. I practice 3-5 hours a day, I still do that, I even practice on tour, all the time. I’ve worked, marketed, setup meetings, begged, and even groveled a little bit to get even to this level, but it is far from over for me, and it’s far from over for you too I’d bet.
So my point, it’s so easy to focus on the things you can’t do. For the last few weeks I’ve been focusing really hard on that fact that I “can’t” practice as much on tour… what does that do? That causes me to lose confidence, microscope my playing, get down on myself, and feel fearful. In my mind that’s God losing the battle for our confidence in Him, and in ourselves. We are listening to lies, and we’re buying into them. We give over to the can’t voices, and then we’re not accomplishing anything.
So – a few days ago something shifted. I started thinking about what I could do on the road. Well I have a practice pad, so I focus my time on honing in my abilities with really advanced hand techniques, focus on timing, and focus on showmanship things like stick twirls and flips, etc. Is that as good as 4 hours on my kit, no it’s not, but when I’m on my kit 4 hours a day, I’m not doing those other smaller things, and they all add up. I also have been spending time working on ear training, charting, things that contribute to making myself a better musician overall, and a better person, and my attitude is much better towards myself because I’m focusing on the things that I “can” do right now!
So – what do you take away from all this craziness – well first of all – you don’t want to end up living in a van down by the river :) And you need to get rid of the “can’t” in your life. Start focusing on what you can do to improve your musicianship, your talents, your job, your family, your body, whatever you need work on. Forget the things that you can’t really change that want to smash your desires, and spend your time working on the things that are going to boost you and build you up. Avoid other negative people that are going to bring you down, find people who will build you up no matter what. Those are some building blocks to success as a drummer, musician, person, carpenter, doesn’t matter, you can apply this anywhere.
Be positive, find joy in your circumstances, and drop the word “can’t” from you vocabulary.
James 1:2 – “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”