May 30, 2018
I had something of a revelation at the Queens of the Stone Age show in London last week. (Sidenote: Terrific live band and drummer Jon Theodore is a beast.) (Another sidenote: Not the kind of revelation you might get at a Steel Panther show.)
I was walking around outside the building with my friends and we came upon the fenced-in area at the back of Budweiser Gardens where the transport trucks load in. There was a tour bus parked back there, from which, luck would have it, emerged a member of the band as we stood watching. There was a crowd gathered and they burst into cheers and calls for autographs, which were declined.
The whole scene got me thinking about The Dream, and as so often happens when I talk or think or write about that kind of thing, I started imagining the steps it must take to go from where I am to where that guy is. It’s the same with any dream, whether it’s six pack abs or a book deal or a successful business or a top rated podcast. There are just so many pieces that have to fall into place. It’s almost overwhelming when you look at it in a certain way.
As all of that was running through my head, that little voice of mine – the one that a few weeks ago asked, “Why are you resisting?" – popped up again and said, “Why can’t it be easy?”
It wasn’t a lament. It wasn’t my subconscious whining because it’s so hard to make dreams come true. It was the powerful and optimistic part of me (yes, it exists) challenging me to look at things from another perspective. Why can’t it be easy? Seriously. Why does it have to be difficult? There’s no law that says it has to be. Isn’t it possible for the right circumstances to present themselves at the right time, and for a massive shift to happen in the blink of an eye?
Of course it is.
So why do we buy into this romantic myth of the struggle?
And if perception is reality, if thoughts become things, how is that myth helping you in real life?
It doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the work. That’s not what I’m talking about. It also doesn’t mean you don't have to pay your dues. We all know that most overnight successes are a decade of grind in the making, but the success still happens, and often very quickly when the circumstances tip. One of my favourite writers is Douglas Coupland. He was struggling as a non-fiction writer for years, trying to figure it all out, and then one day an editor happened to read a postcard that Doug had written to a friend. From that simple postcard came the publishing deal that would result in Generation X and Doug’s whole career.
I once interviewed the amazing Jill Barber. She told me about slaving away in the underground, playing shows and touring and doing all of the things that struggling indie musicians do. Then one day she got a call from a licensing agent in the television industry to say that one of her songs would be placed in a pilot episode for a new t.v. show. She had never heard of the show, but it seemed promising. It was called Orange is the New Black. Her song ran over the closing credits. I asked Jill how that changed things for her. Her answer: “I could tour in the States after that.”
The circumstances tipped.
These stories aren’t rarities. We like to make them out to be, but in the end everyone who’s ever achieved anything has had to tip. Every band, every actor, every writer, every businessperson, every politician. Yes, many of them had to grind it out for years, but when the moment came – when the circumstances tipped – for a lot of them it was seamless and fast and easy.
It doesn’t have to be difficult. Hard work, yes. Frustrating, maybe. Demanding, certainly. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Start changing the way you think about whatever dream you may have. I might have fantasized about touring in Europe, but it seemed pretty unlikely to happen until one day Sarah Smith called up and asked if I have a passport (tip!). Stop telling yourself it’s too hard. Stop telling the universe you think it’s impossible. Stop believing that you have to suffer and suffer and suffer before the dream is allowed to happen.
Do the work.
Believe it’s possible.
And when the time is right, be ready to ... tip.