But it is incredibly simple to overcome, if you are willing…
Notice I opened this blog by saying ‘simple’, not necessarily ‘easy’. And the reason for that distinction is incredibly important. You see difficulty as a measure, is directly related to our belief system. Don’t believe me? By the end of this article you will. (Unless of course you’re like me as a teenager in which case you already know everything therefore you should stop reading now!)
Musician or not, what you believe changes everything
Here’s the thing: we can’t avoid it. Believing in whatever it is you believe is part of your composition as a human being. It is literally the lens through which you see everything else. Even the person that says, ‘I don’t believe in anything’ believes there’s nothing to believe in. That is itself a belief. The person that says, ‘there is no absolute truth’... Is that absolutely true? No matter how you look at the world, whatever your race, religion, etc. your belief system filters everything you see, read, touch, feel, love, hate - it filters the world you live in. So the real question is not about whether or not there is such a thing as absolute truth or debating whether or not a fish is a fish or a fish is actually a donkey (yes - unfortunately I have had those debates), the essential questions I am challenging you with here is: What is it you currently believe about yourself? And what if what you currently believe about yourself is not the truth? Is it possible your beliefs are holding you back? And if it’s at all possible your beliefs are holding you back, then why not at least be open to change?
The artist who says they can and the artist who says they can’t are both right.
Pride. That’s the short answer. The long answer is figuring out what pride disguises itself as and how it got there. (It is super sneaky and ALWAYS finds reasons to justify itself.) But that’s a really long thing to unpack, so let’s instead objectively establish why exactly pride is so self-destructive.
Pride says, ‘I know better than you’ even when we don’t. Pride is that voice that says, ‘I don’t have to listen’ when really we do. ‘I don’t have to follow, to understand, to consider, to empathise…’ the list goes on. It is pride that sells you on those justifications - pride is the essential ingredient of that voice. And before you say in your head, ‘Ahh I already know this, I don’t have to listen…’, realise that voice is directly proving my point. (Aha! Got you!)
Where does pride come from? And most importantly, how does it help?
You mind tries so hard to justify your belief system, ‘because I’m busy you idiot!’ Or, ‘because I don’t need a lecture from you!’ I’m sorry. Did your pride step in there for a second? I’m not pretending I know you from a bar of soap, but pride is the most pervasive, most founded, deepest part of all human beings and unless we are prepared to analyse its role in our lives, we may very well be robbed from its misery before we’ve ever really set off! And it’s not to say there aren’t times that pride has a place, but let’s not confuse pride with confidence. Pride will say, ‘I don’t have to learn from you’ whereas confidence will say, ‘That’s cool, show me what you have, I’m prepared to listen’ - even if you know what they will say. Because confidence allows you to be the bigger person whereas pride does not. Confidence allows you to see the bigger picture whereas pride shows you only yourself. Confidence is the positive ability to humble yourself for someone else’s sake, whereas pride is the negative force that will try to elevate yourself for your sake.
The direct opposite of pride is one of your greatest weapons… if you use it
The trouble sets in when the idea of lowering our wall of pride (so that we can finally learn something valuable) directly contradicts our system of beliefs. If we internally believe that we are insufficient, incapable, not good enough, not popular enough, not talented enough etc. then lowering our pride is almost a complete impossibility. Why? Because in order to accept any form of inadequacy, one also has to have a belief system that identifies as having inherent self worth. Ie. the type of self worth that doesn’t base itself in what you look like, how popular you are, how much skin you can show on a night out or how much makeup you can put on, how funny you are, how talented you are etc. An inherent, truthful sense of self-worth knows that you are made with infinite worth, simply for being you. You don’t need anyone to tell you that you are only good enough if you’re more funny, only good enough if your body is more toned, only good enough if you are better looking or have more money or have more career success… You are good enough simply for being you. And that’s the truth. Only by believing this does our lens begin to change enough to be able to say, ‘Hey, I need help with this’, and really mean it. Our belief system instantly affects our ability to interact.
Growing outward means first growing inward
Your confidence, filtered through a positive lens of inherent self-worth means you are now in a position to analyse your pride more objectively and see where it is misplaced. The ultimate solution being of course, humility.
If you come from a family of high achievers, you will likely find it hard to address the idea of humility, as the cemented attitude over many years of needing to ‘win’ at everything will have nearly destroyed your ability to remove pride. Nearly, but not entirely. You see humility says, ‘Yeah I know that this singer doesn’t have as good of a tone as my voice, but what else can I learn from them?’ Humility says, ‘Wow that criticism feels really harsh, but instead of being offended I will go away and really consider it in case there is truth in it.’ Humility says, ‘I am open and willing to learn from whatever I can, whomever I can, however I can.’ What a successful, well rounded way to think!
With a full tank of humility, ask yourself: What is left to stand in the way of you becoming the ultimate person you want to be? If you’ve (at least majoritively) done away with pride such that it is a relative non-issue, then what do you have to lose by really considering every encounter, every bit of advice & every criticism as nothing short of brilliant opportunities to learn?! Life has now opened up its doors of learning full swing! It is the direct opposite of how so many go about their lives; waking up dwelling on past hurts, walking around getting offended at ridiculous things - all hurt pride. You don’t ever need to be this person! And if you feel like you have been, then today is the day you can change all that!
Humility = Teachability
Humble people can take a punch. In fact humble people can take a bunch of punches, even when they are super tough blows. Then the humble person can get up and instead of whining on about offense or putting up walls, they immediately analyse the scenario and figure out the solutions. It’s the ability to be objective as possible throughout your life.
If you’re a serious artist, singer, or just a non-musical person wanting to succeed - heck - if you’re anyone who has ANY desire to do something with your life - why would you not do away with pride?? Clinging on to pride is such a lose-lose scenario!
When you have humility, and you have really worked on it and pressed it in with your belief structure, it is a win-win scenario and ultimately, you become teachable. You can now learn without having to think about what you look like, whether or not that question you want to ask is stupid, whether or not people will think that comment is dumb - you don’t care any more, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! It is literally the beginning of the rest of your life!
Become the ultimate student of music… and beyond!
So often the keys of growing in a particular skillset in life, albeit music for one, is not rooted in talent but rather rooted in character. Humility is a character choice. That’s why it’s simple. Simple enough that everyone could utilise its power to bless in their lives, but not everyone will. Why? Because it’s easy. And we live in a world that is designed to keep us comfortable not well-rounded. (Although you could be forgiven for seeing the relationship between the two!)
So many will never read an article like this to this point because of pride (granted in many cases it will be because of distractions outside of their control). But how unfortunate for those that live with all that unused potential because they allowed pride to rob them of so much. The great and wonderful news is this: Everyone has a choice. Want to become the best singer you can be? Start by being humble. Want to be the best musician you can be? Start by being humble. Learn. Be teachable and grow from that. Don’t waste time getting offended because then you’ve already lost. Rather, every person you encounter, (no matter how draining it might feel at the time!) has something amazing to teach you. Every day has a new lesson that if you let it, will help provide foundations for new imaginings you’ve not yet even considered.
As a student myself (and most days I feel like I’m barely getting started), I can honestly say that your greatest foundation for building your life is character, and your greatest weapon to continue growing, to find truth and to ultimate learning, is humility.
By Josh Needham