Much of this blog is focused on how we behave as musicians, managers, music directors, etc and so far I haven’t really focused on the very personal nature of how we treat ourselves. While I believe that monitoring and analyzing how we treat others and behave is paramount to success, I think it’s time for an introspective post. And I must give credit where credit is due, as it is partially inspired by a friend’s video post describing how she was told that she was, “a bit much” by someone this past year.
This is actually a little challenging for me because while I’m an introspective person, I rarely share it in a public forum. The people that know me (and I mean really know me), know this about me but others don’t. Blame it on my Midwest, salt-of-the-earth upbringing or blame it on my time in the military (probably a combo of both), but I’m a grit-your-teeth, boots on the ground, get it done with the right tools, kind of person. Go big or go home, and I’ll be bloody, ragged, and half-crazy if I go home because I tried and gave it everything I have. I know that this bothers some people, and makes some folks nervous, and that is okay. I don’t care. Here is why:
Life is too short: Our lives fly past us so quickly and we spend so many weeks/months/years prepping, practicing, and honing that it simply isn’t worth letting folks that can’t handle the intensity pull us down to conform to whatever they say we are supposed to be. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be teachable, coachable, and willing to learn as we most certainly should be . . . but run everything through the BS filter. Because there is a tremendous amount of BS that folks spew in the industry. Carry your grain of salt around with you.
Good is threatening and dangerous: Teachers, music educators, and the like rarely tell you this part of the industry (at least no one I know). We are told to practice, work hard, and achieve great things but . . . there is another side of it. This is the dirty, dark thought that no one will ever admit but when someone is good, it’s threatening to those around them that can’t handle it. It can be perceived as too good and to folks with an inferiority complex, too good is dangerous. If folks are threatened by you, chances are . . . you’re doing something right. Let me be very clear though, make sure that it is a “them” issue and not a “you” issue. Never be “threatening,” just do what you do and do it the best you can. If someone can’t handle it, then just move along to the next situation. That says way more about them than it ever will about you.
Greatness is not often achieved through conformity: The majority of the time, greatness and high achievement are attained through perseverance despite the odds, a willingness to go against the flow, and rise above the status quo (rhyme on accident). It involves discomfort, blood, tears, rejection, rejection, rejection . . . typed that three times, completely on purpose. Rejection is part of it and while cliched, the reality never changes. Many of us have iPhones because someone didn’t conform. For those that have flown Virgin Airlines or Southwest, non-conformity is part of what they do. They do things differently and that is what makes them stand out. So, allow yourself to become comfortable with discomfort. It’s okay, it’s part of the deal. Let it drive you and fuel you.
To close, don’t allow yourself to be swayed by adversity and some folks’ inability to “handle” you. You do what you do best, strive for greatness, and rise above the BS.
Aaron Kusterer is a musician, tour manager, and composer based out of Long Beach, CA. He has performed with artists such as Eddie Money, Mitch Malloy, Juanes, and Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson) to name a few. He has also performed across the globe during a 10-year stint with the United States Air Force Band, 6 years of which was spent as a music director and tour manager. In addition, he owns and operates Advantage Tour Management. For more information on him, check out: AaronKusterer.com.