My Personal Challenge to You
My longtime fans have heard me say numerous times from the stage that the world needs more people who love what they do. This is not just my advice to young musicians whom I teach and mentor. It is my personal challenge to infuse the power of love into everything I do.
It astounds me when I read about the number of people who go to work every morning hating their jobs. Depending on the reports you read from publishers like CBS and Forbes, somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of people are overworked, overstressed and would rather be doing something else with their lives. That means that most of the people you encounter every day, from the person who works on your car to the person who fixes your teeth, do not enjoy what they do.
What about you? Does that news report describe how you feel about your job, your work? What about the people you live and work with? Is it true for them, too? Not only is it hard for you to put up with doing work that you don’t enjoy, it’s hard for everyone else, too. We are all sharing one another’s stress. At the same time, there probably are all sorts of good reasons why we cannot abandon the work we have in front of us. There are people who depend on us. We have financial commitments to maintain. It may be hard to find another job in a certain profession or income range.
What if you could have both: work that you love and a living that you can maintain? You can, and it’s entirely within your reach. Like I’ve said before, “Nothing is impossible.” I’m not saying that it’s always going to be easy. Easy and possible are not the same thing. However, you need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” Is there a longing within you to do something that you have been putting off, to express something that you haven’t fully expressed? The yearning that you feel for something that you’ve not yet pursued or experienced is there for a reason. I call it love. Every time you take something you love, box it up and suppress it, you deny it to yourself and everyone else around you. Is there any wonder as to why there is so much unhappiness in the world?
I’m not asking you to do something drastic like sacrificing everything you have to pursue your unrealized dream (although history is filled with people who have done exactly that). The pursuit and mastery of the gifts within us are not always achieved in one swift action, but through a series of small, disciplined and organized activities that lead to something bigger and better overall. I am asking you to begin by answering the call. Take a stand and make a commitment to yourself to achieve your greater desire.
Music has taught me the value of practice and of making space in my life to do it. The compositions that come easy for me today were at one time out of my reach. If you know my story, then you know that most of what I have achieved today was beyond my grasp not once, but twice before. My affliction with dystonia erased years of practice from my life. Virtually overnight it removed my means of making a living for my family. However, it did not erase the love for what I do. The music inside of me that I had yet to share is what eventually helped me to find a new direction with an even better destination.
The same is true for you, whatever your “music” happens to be. If you love it and allow time and space for it to flow, then you cannot help but create more of it in your life. All too often, we are quick to make judgments that prevent us from even attempting this. Our fast-paced culture tends to demand immediate and tangible results from what we do. In the process, if we are not careful, we short-change ourselves from those things that are most precious to us. Nature does not create its beauty in a day. When the seeds are deep in the soil, it is hard for us to imagine the fruits that will someday emerge. Through patience, faith and persistent vigilance, new life will sprout from the seeds you have planted, which you can then cultivate (through practice) and eventually harvest.
The choice to pursue what you love doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. You don’t have to choose either the life you love or the job you hate. It isn’t necessary to abandon all other conventions in your life including your job, whether you hate it right now or not. For the moment, all you need to do is ask yourself, “Is what I love to do important enough to me to make space for it in my life?” If your answer to that question is “Yes,” then take out your calendar and build in some time for practice. Have faith in the process and know that what you are pursuing is worthwhile. The seed you have planted through this beginning with start to grow. The skills you acquire will spill into your work life and the love you experience from it will stay with you throughout your day. Eventually, the fruits of your labor will attract the attention of others around you and the work that you love will occupy a bigger part of your life. When I accepted the challenge to infuse love into everything I did, it made all the difference in the world to me. When you decide to make it your challenge, you will see the difference in your life, too.