Got Elephants in Your Room? Clear Em Out!

You know your singer-songwriter friends who you love to pieces but have blinders on when it comes to their music? They have the talent, but there is something they don’t have just right yet. Maybe they are fooling themselves about how good they are, so they don’t work at it enough. Or maybe they keep writing the exact same song over and over again -but are so proud their solo efforts when really they need some serious co-writing help. There is this thing about ego and creativity that can leave artists  in  a black hole that sucks any chance of success from their grasp.

Truth is, almost no one’s going to tell you about your  elephants  – instead, they’re likely to just leave you to hang out with them, counting tusks. And it could cost you your career!

The #1  Elephant : Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage happens more than you know – and the nature of it is that you don’t know you’re doing it. The number one way I see artists sabotage themselves is with perfectionism. Ring a bell? I know this one well myself. Truth be known, perfectionism is a trap! And you know what else I notice? Everyone who is a self-proclaimed perfectionist (self included) is often proud of it! Sadly, it’s not funny at all – it’s actually robs you of moving forward and undermines your self-confidence. The quickest way to release yourself of the burden is to accept yourself, flaws and all (I said quickest -not easiest). The moment you accept yourself, flaws and all, is the moment you move forward.

The way to get clear is to do an inventory of your beliefs. I learned this from don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. One day he asked us to take out our journals and write down all of our beliefs. This was a great exercise. Try it, accompanied by some self-administered truth serum, and it will reveal some kind of shocking stuff about what you really believe – note to self.

# 2  Elephant : Reality Check

The worst case scenario is when you are doing everything possible working on your music, but you don’t have someone to tell you the truth. I have a student who is so picky about what she writes (lyrics) that she never finishes any songs – she just keeps flitting from song to song thinking the next one will be the one that comes out right. Matter of fact she thinks she’s “picky” about lyrics, but really she’s non-committal and underneath that, she’s scared that she’s not a good enough writer. So really what’s running her is her fear – not her lack of creativity. Besides the fact that she has no songs to sing that are her own, she doesn’t get to develop as an artist.. So I gave her a reality check – I told her the truth, and I basically won’t let her get away with it anymore because I know it’s not what really she wants. So far, we have one song close to completion (old habits die hard) and another one on the way! She’s still judging them, but at least she’s staring her  elephant  straight  in  the eye now.

So here’s a quick test to see what  elephants  (or 8 pound gorilla) could be hiding  in  your  room  that could be keeping you from your destiny.

How Many  Elephants  Are  in  Your  Room ? Your Checklist:

So, are you ready for a healthy dose of reality? This may seem harsh, but the cold hard truth is exactly what you need to arm yourself for your career and beat out the competition. With so many artists out there clamoring to be heard – and your music at stake – here’s how to escort an  Elephant  or two politely out of your  room .

Answer the following questions quite honestly. Each one of these is absolutely non-negotiable, if you are destined for the red carpet.

For every no, add one  Elephant  to your  room . At the end of the exercise, tally up how many are  in  your herd!

1. Do you practice your vocal technique 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes? No exceptions.

If you don’t, you absolutely have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

2. Do you write at least one song per week?

If you don’t, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

3. Do you practice an instrument (piano or guitar) 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes?

If you don’t, you have one  Elephant   in  your  room .

4. Do you sing on pitch and have good phrasing (or are working like mad on it?)

If you don’t, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

5. Beginners: Do you have a professionally recorded demo of your material (at least 4 songs) –

Emerging artists: Do you have a record, EP & videos on You Tube (or are actively working on them?)

If you don’t/aren’t, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

6. Do you get compliments on your voice from strangers?

If you don’t, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room  (unless you never perform and then you have 2  Elephants   in  your  room  – see next question).

7. Do you perform often?

If you don’t, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

8. Have you read Everything You Need to Know About the Music Industry by Donald Passman?

If you haven’t, you have one  Elephant   in  your  room .

9. Do you train your vocal instrument with a professional vocal coach to avoid problems and have an awesome voice?

If you aren’t, you most definitely have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

10. Does every professional on your team believe  in  you wholeheartedly?

And if you don’t have a team yet you have multiple  Elephants   in  your  room  (A team designates at least one of the following: voice coach, co-writer, mentor, VA (Virtual Assistant), manager, producer etc.)

If not, you have one  Elephant   in  your  room .

11. Do you love the music you are creating? (Operative word is “love”. Making great music is about making the music you want to hear – no exceptions).

If not, you have an  Elephant   in  your  room .

Add up the  Elephants   in  your  room  here: _______

If you have 7 or more  Elephants   in  your  room , this is a herd. Your subconscious brain needs a major overhaul. Read the book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy immediately.

If you have 5-6  Elephants   in  your  room , you are definitely sabotaging yourself. Focus on getting down to 5, less than half, and then whittle away at the rest! You can do it! One foot  in  front of the other.

If you have 3-4  Elephants   in  your  room , you are fooling yourself a little bit and just need to get real. Ask 2 people close to you what they think you need help with.

If you have 1-2  Elephants   in  your  room , you are  in  the normal ballpark and just need a little tweaking and focusing! You’re so close!

If you have 0  Elephants   in  your  room , you are awesome! You could become famous one day soon! Gotta love it! Proud of ya!

Ready to usher some  Elephants  out of your  room ? Keep this list on your desk and turn every no into a yes! You not only could become a great artist, you may actually get a leg up  in  this industry! And no matter how many or how little  Elephants  you have  in  your  room , still read The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy – it’ll take you there.