April 16, 2018
What do you do when things don’t go your way?
That’s one of the two big questions I’ve got on my mind after this past weekend. The annual Jack Richardson London Music Awards were given out last night, and my band Hiroshima Hearts had the honour of being nominated in the Rock category. It was the third year in a row that we were on the ballot.
Turns out it was also the third year in a row that we didn’t win.
It’s alright. We’re friends and fans of all the great bands that were nominated in our category, and the winner was Sarah Smith. If you read my blog, you know how hard Sarah works and how much she deserves it. I'm proud to have been a small part of her team over the past couple of years.
Disappointments happen in life. Personally and professionally, sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way. It’s okay to be bummed about that, temporarily anyway, but ultimately what matters most is how you react to it. Over the years I’ve learned that the most constructive thing you can do is just play on. You didn’t win the award? Play on. You didn’t get the promotion? Play on. You didn’t get the record deal? Play on. You didn’t pass the audition or win the lead role or land the big account or otherwise receive the recognition you think you’ve earned? That sucks and it hurts.
Now play on.
Put your head down and get back to work. Keep going. Don’t waste time and energy being bitter or resentful, especially if you have no control over the outcome. Those reactions don’t serve you. What serves you is doing the work. One of the highlights of London Music Week for me was a drum clinic by Danny Miles of July Talk (a great player and very humble guy). Danny talked about the days before July Talk finally started to happen. He talked about playing in five bands at the same time, working a job to stay afloat while he was grinding and grinding and grinding as a drummer trying to make it. You better believe there were disappointments in those days. There must have been times when he questioned whether it was worth it to continue.
What did he do in that situation?
He played on.
I’ve been there too. I’m still there now, grinding away in several bands, trying to improve my playing, straddling that precarious line between chasing the dream and trying to make a living. That sort of thing can defeat you if you let it, but what’s the answer? Well, if the dream persists, you play on, and you do it with gratitude. I'm so lucky and grateful to play with the awesome people in Hearts, and with Sarah and Ken the Zen and Carly Thomas (another deserving winner last night who also just keeps on working at it). I've been very, very fortunate with the opportunities I've had.
The thing is disappointment is emotion, and emotion is energy. You can use the energy created by your disappointment to fuel you. No, it's not easy. It's really, really not easy. It's advanced alchemy and it’s bloody hard, but it pays much bigger dividends than indulging your ego and wallowing in self-pity. And as Danny Miles said at his clinic, things worked out pretty well for him in the end.
Which brings us to the second question I’ve got on my mind after this past weekend: What do you do when things do go your way?
Answer: You play on.
Sarah wasn't there to accept her award last night. She would have been, but she was far, far away, touring in eastern Canada. She was playing on. The accolades come or they don’t, but Sarah keeps on working. Same thing for Danny Miles. He’s “made it” in as real a way as it’s possible to make it, but he told us he practices now more than he ever has. He could rest on his ability, but he’s a pro who understands that grinding is growing. Arriving on the big stage doesn't mean you get to stop working. The big stage demands more work, not less. And so he plays on, whether his band wins the Juno or not.
That’s what I’m going to do, too. I have a gig on Saturday night with Carly, as well as some recording sessions throughout the weekend. Time to play on. Time to grind. If you’ve had setbacks and disappointments with whatever you’re working on, I recommend doing the same.
Your time will come.