Sunday, June 3, 2012

What Music Taught Me About My Money Relationship

At age 15, I spent my summer at the Aspen Music Festival. It still rates as one of my best summers, ever. I made fast friends with a community of amazing, talented high school kids, many of whom were already attending Juilliard's Pre-College School. Some flew in to New York every Friday from as far away as Illinois to attend Pre college school on Saturday! For me, NOT being in the glamorous city of New York with my fun friends was just not an option. Without a doubt, I had my heart set on getting into Juilliard.. Never before in my life had I ever felt such a deep, burning, desire for anything. as I did then.

LESSON #1: Emotions are the motivating force behind most everything you do in life. What is it that you truly desire in your life? No one but you can tell. What does this translate to, financially?. Once you recognize exactly what it is that your financial goal gives you (besides more money), you will always have it to refer back to when you are experiencing those days that just don't seem to be moving you forward. It will also help you make decisions a lot faster as you can ask yourself if something is getting you closer to or further from your goal.

At age 17, my dream came true! I was accepted into the Juilliard School of Music. Preparing for my audition was no small undertaking though. I had to be brutally honest with myself and analyzed what I needed to do to allow my dream to come true. I figured out how many months I had until the audition date, then set up a practice schedule for myself as I had to master all the audition pieces (remember, my fun, highly accomplished friends were calling) I practiced 8 hours a day, sometimes more, starting my day at 7 AM and going until 10 PM.

What dreams do you have for your life? Start with your end goal in mind and then reverse engineer from there to help you create a plan as to how you are going to achieve them. Are you on track? Do you stay on track? When you get off track (we all have those moments), what tends to throw you off?

LESSON #2: Dreams become a reality when you make the decision to make them happen. Once you decide, then focus, prepare and take action. Focusing without action won't get you far just as action without focus can be a waste of your time. Combine the two, however, and you get momentum, power and results.

The minute I entered Juilliard, I quickly went from being a bigger fish in a small lake, to a small fish in a much more elite pond. Some of my classmates were already performing in Carnegie Hall, appearing on the "Tonight Show" and taking the top prizes in major international competitions. Every year we were required to give a recital and I always chose to perform with pianists who were far more experienced and knowledgeable than I. This way I was forced to improve just to be able to keep up with them!

LESSON #3: If you want to improve your own situation fast, Raise Your Standards and surround yourself with the best, then you will have no choice but to get better. Are you spending time with people who are at the same, worse or better financial level than you? Who do you talk to about your finances and how to improve upon them (assuming you want that)? What are you doing to educate yourself about the way money works?

In order to get to the next level, you have to get out of your comfort zone. If it is fear that holds you back, just know that everyone feels fear but the difference is that some people move forward anyway.

I was one of 4 students in my piano class. There was a student who rarely showed up. When he did, the teacher gave him SUCH a hassle, threatening to fail him, telling him that he could be suspended from school, etc. etc. etc.. Turns out that my classmate was never there because he was always touring with "Dizzy" (Gillespie). His name was Wynton Marsalis.

LESSON # 4: You can never go wrong if you follow your bliss, even if it means you will definitely ruffle other people's feathers.

No one performing on the international circuit started off at Carnegie Hall. Everyone started by giving student recitals and performing wherever they could to get the experience and develop their repertoire of music. Even the greats practice their scales and arpeggios every day. No one is free from doing the basics. Skip them, and you have no foundation.

LESSON #5: When you experience success around anything, it's time to celebrate! Very importantly, however, it is also time to analyze every single thing you did to make that happen so your own success habits can get engrained in you.

You will never get more money than you are able to handle. So you must handle the money you do have, well. I am not just talking about the practical aspect of handling money, but you must be emotionally and spiritually equipped to match the amount of money you desire. Maturity is required.

If a musician performs poorly in Podunk, USA, they have not yet proven themselves worthy of performing in Carnegie Hall yet. Cut your teeth on what you have, make the most of it, get habits in place now, and then watch yourself grow exponentially.

People who track tend to be those who are constantly educating themselves about their passions, then them turning around and magnetizing on them. People who are willing to look at their relationship with money straight in the eye and admit when things are not as well as they could be and those who are as much about action as they are about harnessing their mind, can not help but experience success with their finances.

What did you do right to land that job, get that client, increase your income, pay down that debt?

What did you do to prepare yourself for those conversations with the client, the boss, the IRS? What kind of mindset did you put yourself in? What kind of physical materials did you put together to get your intention across? What kind of letters and emails did you send? Did you consult with anyone for their advice? Did you journal about it before hand? What kind of research did you do to prepare yourself for action?


LESSON #6 : There is really no such thing as an "Over night Success". Success starts with a solid foundation from which Success builds on Success. You are only as good as your last performance. During my days as an agent I would tell budding artists that it was fairly easy to get a Carnegie Hall debut. The hard part was getting reinvited because you can never rest on your laurels. Even if you increased your income last year, you must work smarter and even more efficiently to break last year's income. Even if you paid off all your debt, you must always watch yourself to make sure you are being responsible with your credit cards.

Everyone on this planet has experienced rejection, disappointment and failure. Part of being successful in life is about learning to acknowledge your lessons learned, then moving on. When you experience a glitch and something doesn't go the way you particularly liked or expected, you need to learn to make your recovery time as short as possible in order not lose your momentum and concentration. My good friend, sports psychologist Don Greene coached the U.S. Olympic diving team to a few Gold medals, the year that Greg Louganis was on the U.S. team. Don also works with professional musicians and says "I teach musicians to NAIL ("guy-speak" : ) the 2 most important notes in a performance: The first; the first note of a performance, to ensure that you get started off on the right foot. The second most important note is the note you play after you have made a mistake".

Not dwelling on the past or wallowing around in that space, is important. I am not saying that you discount your feelings as they are your greatest teachers. but it is important to accept what has happened, take what you can from it, then move on. When it comes to finances, I believe it is very important to understand where your belief systems came from, but not to wallow there too long as you want to get you moving towards your goals If you are frustrated that you might not be saving fast enough, that you are not making enough, then Good! Recognize that you feel this way about your finances and MOVE on it. Money, for better or worse, has a direct affect on the quality of your life so why would you want to waste any more time*thinking* about doing something?If you made a mistake, whether it was piling up some debt or getting paid less than what you deserve, it means you TRIED which is more than many even set out to do! Remember, mistakes are "missed takes". Do a retake.

LESSON #7: Learn to recover quickly and keep moving forward and up. Learn from your mistakes, digest the lesson learned, then move on.

Without soul, passion and deep, thoughtful intelligence, music becomes a string of meaningless notes. It's not about playing all the notes perfectly. If that were the case, then you could listen to a computer churn out a piece of music. It's what happens between the notes; the intention, the love, the focus, the intelligence behind it all. THAT is what moves people and helps you build your audience or tribe. A great musician is someone who has digested all that life has to teach, then somehow expresses these life taught emotions through a bunch of notes. Great musicians do not run away from their feelings because in order to connect deeply with others, they must be able to express those very same feelings that we all, as humans, carry.

LESSON #8: You can never go wrong when you give your heart, soul, passion and intellect! You will always bear fruit. Reach down into your core to find your answers to what it is that both ails and thrills you. Then, like a great musician, use that information to create the best for yourself; a life of Full Wealth. Happy Harvesting!

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