Written by Jason Harlow
I was in Church yesterday and the message touched on something personally I’ve dealt with in my entire music career or life in general. For those that know me, I’m somewhat ambitious, I like to sometimes go against the grain to simply prove something can be done, especially when people say it cannot. It’s just how I’m wired and I’ve always tried to improve things, whether that meant taking apart perfectly working electronics to make it better as kid or in my adult life helping others pursue their journeys in business and music. I really just enjoy the process and seeing folks embrace opportunity to pursue dreams.
This little write up is to share some of the things you may encounter (like i did) in your pursuit of goals and hopefully encourage folks to not let others (specifically who have zero experience) influence you away from your goals and dreams.
The sermon used the movie “42” to display examples and then biblical elements were talked about with recent history..etc. The movie is a good one. It’s all about Jackie Robinson, the first black athlete to play in Major League Baseball. Jackie was given an opportunity to play ball even when the odds were stacked against him… way against him. He took on a huge task to have the courage to pursue his goals and dreams at all costs, even when everyone around him told him it would not work.
Spoiler alert: Jackie changed the world of sports, ending racial segregation in baseball, and becoming an MVP. His talent and uncompromising focus on his goals is an incredible testament to those who pursue excellence.
Ok, what does this have to do with music? Well, in your journey, you’re gonna have people who oppose you, much like Jackie had. At every turn, you’ll probably have someone with their opinion or beliefs ready to cut you down.
I cannot even fathom the burden that Jackie Robinson had, however, I do recognize that one thing will remain the same, unless we change it, people will always have an opinion on your goals and dreams and some actually try to prevent you from succeeding.
I’ll be honest, after the sermon, I was left there thinking how blessed I’ve been. I was able to reflect on my poor decisions as well as ones that ended up good by the grace of God. As a musician and business person though, I related to the struggle of people telling me things like “it’s not doable”, “don’t”, “you can’t”, criticized my activities, or have created false narrative or bad mouth things which I’ve been involved with.
So, you may be reading this and thinking the same thing has happened or is happening to you at this very moment. You might have haters toward your band? Maybe you’ve been told you’ll never be good? Maybe you’ve been told to give up the dream?
Well, rest assured, this is human stuff and it goes back to the since the beginning of time.
So, for what it’s worth, I’ll share my take on what I feel are the top 3 reasons why some people to go down these roads. The good news is, once you can identify the “why”, their opinions may not be all that important after all. By the way, this is about the negative people, the impediments as I like to call them. When and if you find a supporter who has the experience, same values, and commitment, learn as much as possible. Ok, on to the top 3 reasons people sometimes suck.
- Jealousy. Seems kinda stupid but yes, if you are doing something musically and others are taking notice, expect to get some haters. Jealousy often reflects insecurity. Successful and happy artists don’t have time to talk badly about other artists because they’re too busy doing awesome things with their music. In our local scene, we really cannot afford to talk badly about each other. In my recent experience, it takes about 5 minutes for the person to find out around these parts. That’s how long it took for me to hear about some folks making a few remarks about a project of mine. We are a small community, word travels very quickly… and really, why would you give a crap what I’m doing. LOL.
Seriously though, here are some hard core facts: We’re all gonna die, we all wish we were better musicians, we all just want to eat, we all just want to have fun and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s pretty simple, support each other. There is no time for jealousy in what we do, we’re all the same, in the same community, and flying on this big rock in space. No need for jealousy, it looks bad.
- Fear / Threatened. Yep, in the eyes of some folks, they may be threatened if you actually succeed. They fear that maybe their musical endeavors will somehow be diminished because of your success. This type of thinking is completely backwards. The saying “all ships rise at high tide” applies directly to our music community. When a band becomes successful or even a music community, all in the area will see growth. This reaches all the way down to studios, photographers…etc.
More importantly, if you are setting your goals, do not fear FAILURE. The biggest killer of goals in the internal fear of failure. Remember, surviving mistake = experience. Be prepared to gain a ton of experience in your journey and don’t let others fear impact your ability to give things a shot. There is a reason it’s called WD-40… because water displacement 1 through 39 did not work. Could you imagine if that guy would have stopped at 39? LOL
- Frustrated / Unhappy. Some may be frustrated that their own ambitions, drive, or actions are not getting as much ground as yours. These folks’ generally want to try and prevent others from succeeding in some diabolical plan to keep you at their level. Some may be unhappy because they feel their opinion is not being heard or even frustrated that the community is changing without their blessing. Here is the deal though, they have nothing to do with your success. The unhappiness is likely based on not putting their own goals into action.
We’re all gonna get frustrated at some point but putting it off on others makes absolutely no sense. When you do, you look like an ass. LOL
Last bit of advice from an old fat guitar player dude: As far as goals / dreams, it takes guts, passion, like the same passion to breath, and a LOT of work if you want to accomplish what others say is impossible. And the reality is, you may not be up for it. Only you can decide that.
For me, folks like Robert Kiyosaki, John Maxwell, Tim Ferris, and others played some critical roles in my thinking (and still do) which helped me accomplish the little things I have done. The big one I recall prior to starting the internet company and my media company was realizing that the advice I was getting was from people who had no experience in what I was after and the advice was coming from people who had a mindset not of someone willing to create things.
Example, if you go to your friend who has no experience in the music industry and ask him for advice, you’ll get advice but it’s likely the wrong advice and it might put you on the wrong path. Some say bad advice is worst than no advice. Seek those who have accomplished what you’re trying to move towards and ask. I’ve noticed myself that successful people usually don’t hoard information and freely share it.
Hopefully some of this may help as these principles apply to music or anything in life. If you want to record an album, write it down and pursue it, we’ve got some great folks who can record you in the area. If you want to start a band, get out there and network, get on the Wiregrass musicians group and other Facebook groups, go to an open mic and get heard..etc. If you want to start a Reggae band in South Alabama, talk to Ken Kirkland, everyone said it could not be done. Point is, it starts with setting that goal and taking action without worrying about what others think or say. Let the haters hate! Rock on.