The success of large Japanese manufacturing companies is largely attributed to the Eastern culture of reflection and open-mindedness. The leaders who design the future of companies like Toyota spend a great deal of time reflecting on the past and future – something that is not as highly valued in Western culture - where ‘action’ is the so called key to success.
While it’s obvious that reflection without action is a recipe for stagnation, it’s clear that action without reflection can be just as detrimental, yet less obvious to diagnose.
The trajectory of a cannon is more important than its power
Imagine that you’re on a pirate ship and the captain has instructed you to hit a small target 250 meters away with a cannon – but you only have one cannonball. If you were a smart pirate, you’d adjust the trajectory of the cannon first to ensure that it’s perfectly in line with your target.
When the cannon’s trajectory is perfect, it doesn’t matter whether the cannonball is fired at 250mph or 350mph – either way it will eventually reach the target. But if the trajectory is slightly off, no matter what speed the cannonball is fired at, it’ll never reach the intended target.
In this metaphor, you’re the cannonball. The target is whatever you’re trying to achieve as an artist, and the cannon is your mindset.
The point is – if your trajectory isn’t perfectly aligned towards your target, you’ll find it harder to reach that target than if you spent just a bit of time once in a while adjusting your trajectory and reviewing how you’re doing things.
A perfect alignment will make it clear how to spend your time & money
When you reflect on your goals, it becomes clear where to effectively invest in yourself. When artists spend thousands on buying the latest custom guitars or a beautiful top of the range drum kit, it’s a great personal investment, but often a poor investment for their goals as an artist. I know that having nice gear makes us enjoy the time we spend with our instruments so much more, but it’s usually a poor investment for progressing your career as an artist - will a Custom PRS really get you more exposure than a Fender Strat?
When you realise that your goal is to build 10,000 loyal fans or to be on a TV show to wave at your mum, you can direct every bit of power you have to making that happen – the thousands of pounds you would have spent on a Custom PRS, or a DW kit, can instead be channeled into building your fan base with great services, distributing your music, duplicating your CDs, and other things that will have a greater impact on growing your career as an artist. Greg Rollet wrote an excellent post on this topic several years ago here, which I highly recommend reading.
Where are you heading right now?
If nothing else, I urge you to spend ten minutes with a piece of paper sometime over the next few days. Ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve, what you’re doing to make it happen, and what you could change to make it happen quicker. Get in to a habit of making this time feel productive.
This post was written by Marcus Taylor, founder of TheMusiciansGuide.co.uk, a website that offers DIY musicians resources such as music business contracts. You can follow Marcus on Twitter at @themusicguide.
Image Credit: cdnphoto