It takes a lot of work. I don’t have to tell you what I’m referring to because if it’s truly what you want to be doing with your life then you already know what I’m talking about. Maybe you haven’t admitted this to yourself yet, but it’s true.
I recently got into cooking, so for the purpose of this I’m going to use cooking as my prime example because there are few too many unique paths in music to choose just one. We all cook or know of cooking so it’s a fairly common ground to build from. If you cook, you may or may not think you’re any good at it. If you don’t cook then you already know where you stand.
All cooking is as much an act of artistic expression as it is an experiment. Learning the basics, from ensuring your chicken is thoroughly cooked to baking cookies, is relatively simple, but to become proficient at any single recipe or dish requires endlessly repeating trials made with the smallest of changes between each batch. A little extra salt here, a dash of cinnamon there. You make tiny, incremental changes over and over again until you find a mix that tastes better than the rest then you set to besting that.
There is no ceiling for success in cooking, just like there is no ceiling in music, writing, painting, designing, marketing, or a million other fields. The possibilities are limitless, and you have the unique ability to express yourself through your work in a way that others cannot. Others may stumble upon similar ideas or expressions, but none of them can be exactly likes yours. It may sound corny, but it’s true, and you won’t know just how powerful your ideas can be until you apply them to whatever it is you wish to do.
Let me be frank: Chasing any passion is a process that never ends. Even the best of the best — the people you look to as ‘trendsetters’ or ‘icons’ — in any field have nights when the greatness we all strive toward is out of reach. It happens more often than you think, in fact, and every time they fall short it still hurts just as much as it does for you or me.
And really, the greatness we seek will always be out of reach. There is no one way to do anything just like there is no way to please everyone. If you put your efforts into finding perfection in any way you will always come up short. Your goal should not be perfection, but rather constant progress in a direction that makes you feel happy and fulfilled. If you feel you’re grinding away and getting nowhere there may be good reason for that. You have to listen to yourself, and you have to heed the advice that little voice inside your soul is yearning to get across.
To work towards something is to accept the inevitability of failure. You can control your progress to an extent, but that control will only get you so far. Success is the cousin of risk. It lives and breathes on the back of chances taken, but to take a chance is to risk failure. It’s okay though, because everyone fails far more often than they succeed. What will separate you from others is your ability to get back up whenever you fall down and try again. That’s all you need to do: Keep getting back up. Keep trying new things. Keep believing.
You might think you want to reach some pinnacle of success, but that’s not really the truth. What you want is to be recognizes as the best of the best, or at least one of the best. If you really reached the peak — if such a thing existed — you would become so bored with existence that you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself. Embrace the process and learn to love it. That is the only way to stay sane in this crazy, crazy thing we call life.