Monday, June 11, 2012

music monday: working hard

How was your weekend? Mine went by so fast! We took advantage of some time to relax, and had a chance to visit with more friends and family before we left. Today we're on our way back to Nashville, and my fingers are crossed that my sweet baby niece will be born this week while we're there. I can't wait to become an aunt! Today's music monday is based on some follow up thoughts to the post about why we do what we do. Once you get past the initial inspiration, passion, and definition of why you're getting started, the next step is just plain old hard work!

When people express an interest in doing what Jordan and I do, one of their first questions is usually how we got started. As I expressed in the previous post, I believe the "why" is more important than the "how", but once you get that figured out, the "how" is clearly the next important question to answer! My answer is usually a pretty simple one‑be ready to work as hard as you possibly can, and then some!

Everyone's story is different, and the music industry is constantly evolving with new technology and changing opportunities. Some artists stay completely independent, some sign with a label out of the gate, some (like me) do a little bit of both during their careers. I am confident that God has brought us to where we are, and provided for our family each and every step of the way. However, we have always put as much time and effort as we can into our career. Looking back, I thought I was giving 100% when we first started, but as we've grown, so has the amount of work we do! Songwriting is no longer just a hobby to pursue when I'm feeling inspired, but a vital part of what I do that must be scheduled into our busy lifestyle. Jordan has been doing our booking for the duration of our career, and I have seen him become increasingly organized and intentional about it, rather than taking a more relaxed approach as things progress and business increases. 

Every so often, Jordan and I sit down to talk about where we are headed as a family and as musicians, and our conversation always ends with the agreement that now is the time to work harder than we've ever worked. We continue to strive for better, because we feel that we can honor God by continuing to work hard and push ourselves to improve. Obviously this must be done with discretion, because it's easy to become burned out or let your motivation become selfish, but when done in a way that strives to bring honor to God, we have seen him do increasingly great things in our life. There are certainly tips on how to get the most out of self-booking, songwriting, performing, etc...but without a great work ethic, even the best talent can go to waste.

Early on in my 20's, I worked as a barista at Starbucks. I was hired at the front end of a busy holiday season (our store was in a mall) and every shift I worked seemed to have non-stop customers. Eventually business slowed, and a while later I had my 6 month performance review. I still remember my manager telling me that while I was great at following directions, I didn't seem very motivated to work hard during slow times, and that I could really improve on working harder even when there wasn't an obvious task in front of me. I wanted to defend myself and blame my shift managers for not giving me better instructions, but I realized that I was receiving some really valuable feedback. It wasn't long before my manager came to me to remark on how much I'd improved, and told me that the shift managers had also been remarking on how I'd become much more hard-working and motivated.

To this day, I'm so grateful for a job that gave me the opportunity to see the value of hard work and self-motivation. I could have decided that my $7.25 an hour wasn't worth going above and beyond for, but I felt God teaching me instead that when I commit myself to something, giving my best is a way to honor God and present an offering of worship to him. I'm not always a perfect worker, and there are many ways I am striving to improve on what I do now. Every day is another chance to work hard, make progress, and live in a way that honors God, and doing what I love is just the icing on the cake! Wherever you're at in your journey, I want to encourage you to work hard. It's usually the more difficult thing to do, but the rewards that come far outlast the momentary relief of procrastinating.

Have you had to learn this the hard way like me? My husband Jordan has always been very self-motivated, and I've learned so much from him! Do you have any special tips for staying on task even when someone isn't micromanaging you? Let's hope this conversation motivates us to be even more productive than usual! :)


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