Just returning from a week in Nashville, I am left thinking about what it takes to make it.
Having been involved in the music industry for much of my life, the answer to that question often seems elusive. For some, talent and skills seem to matter little and it's all about relationships and timing. But for most, it is just the same as building any business: being very good at what you do and knowing how to connect, making an impression, serving your audience as best as possible, combined with an undeniable passion for what you do and how you do it, perseverance, and an ego that knows how to be humble and take rejection, hope, denial, elation and frustration all at the same time.
I am in awe of musicians. I can't even imagine what it would take to get up on a stage and perform something so close to your heart, time and time again, with conviction, skill and passion and often, to an empty room. I don't know any musician who hasn't gone through that hundreds of times, before they became successful.
Nashville is a town full of musicians. Many of them successful and famous, and many, not. This trip, what was particularly astonishing, was what happened when Taylor Swift came to town. 150,000 fans swooped in for 3 days of sold-out shows. I don't even like Taylor Swift's music, but her grit is undeniable. As an 11-year old Nobody from nowhere, she knew she wanted to be a country singer. She came to Nashville and knocked on many doors and got turned down by everybody. And she kept coming. Years later, another Nobody noticed her perseverance and gave her a chance and the rest is famous music history.
It is very easy to take "no" for a "no". Easy, because that means that you don't have to put yourself out there anymore and whatever it is that is so important to you, can just stay at home, safely, unchallenged and unnoticed. What if we didn't stop at "no" and dared to explore what it really means? If we didn't make it about us but got curious? When we make it about us, we miss the real answers, so keep asking.