Posts Tagged ‘music’

I’m not ‘normal’

September 2, 2008

Here’s a great question I got this week from a reader who creates beautiful music – but…………  I’m sure many of you will identify with her.

Dan, I’m an artist.  I don’t fit any “normal” job because I’m in the 1% of the world’s population. I have felt blocked by obstacles or setbacks all my life.  I have wanted to use my gifts and talents in the church but feel rejected by it.  I have big dreams — I want to be used by God in a big way.  I see myself doing many things: singing/writing/teaching.  But I have a feeling I’m going to have to create my own “job.”  There has never been a job description written for what I want to do.  I think God is pushing me “out of the box” and has other ideas for me.  But I see no clear-marked path of how to best create work.  Am I alone in my struggle?

Dear Artist,

I love gifts that God gives us that don’t “fit” nicely anywhere.  I find that people with those often end up with a much more authentic life than those who simply chose a common path like dentist, accountant, pastor, teacher or engineer.  Be grateful that you are in a wonderful 1% of the population.  And yes, you will likely have to create your position – there are not traditional “jobs” for people like us. But that’s where we have to use that same creativity and artistic abilities to find how to share our gift with the world in a way that is meaningful, purposeful – and profitable.

I’m listening to all the music intros on your MySpace site as I write this.  It’s soothing, restful and healing – great sound.  Just keep in mind that having that skill and putting it to music is the beginning part of seeing business success.  You then have to position, brand and market it.  Having the gift and talent is not enough.  You need to know your “unique selling proposition” (USP) and have a clear marketing strategy.  Your music may be appropriate for people in hospice situations or as part of a physical rehabilitation program.  I know of an artist who has focused on dental offices for selling her art.  Someone commented that her art is calming – she took that one cue and has been extremely successful selling into that one profession.

Here is a Business Planning Guide that has 48 different ways to market.  You have to have a clear 4-5 that you are doing at any given time. 

No, you are not alone in your struggle.  Thousands are asking the same questions and having the same feelings.  Being “out of the box” is a blessing.  People inside the box are smothering.

Connect Your Heart to your Head

April 29, 2008

Last week I wrote about making money – and that there are a few non-negotiable components of how I set the stage to work each day.  Those included my ergonomic chair, a weekly massage and “In the background I have music playing -specifically setting the stage for productive “knowledge work.” 

Well that prompted questions about the music I listen to.  Here’s probably more than you cared to know – but maybe it will stimulate a useful practice for yourself.

Most of the time when I’m thinking, planning and writing I have “Classic FM” on iTunes radio playing in the background. It’s just great classical music – fairly light and inspirational – and free.

Sometimes when I’m just doing routine office work I’ll switch to “Beatles-A-Rama” – all Beatles music or the all-Elvis station.

In my car with the top down, screaming down the road, I listen to U2 and Alicia Keys.

And then I sing with The Nashville Choir.  Most of our singing is based on church music.  Recently, on a Sunday night we did a community hymn sing at the beautiful new symphony hall here in Nashville with Bill Gaither, Melinda Doolittle and Amy Grant.

I believe music releases a creativity that stays blocked otherwise.  And not just listening – but singing.  Yes, I believe everyone ought to sing!  Diane Austin, adjunct associate professor of music at New York University, says “The voice is like a bridge from your heart to your head.  Singing freely releases what’s locked up in your body.”  A pilot study published in the British Journal of Nursing found that singing greatly reduces the anxiety and depression patients can experience following a major surgery.  Another two-year study of elderly people with dementia found that singing slowed the natural rise in blood pressure associated with aging.

So if you want to lower your blood pressure and unlock your creativity – try singing.  Release the music in you and you may release the other areas of success that are waiting to be set free – physically, relationally, spiritually, in your work, and financially. 


Mercy Me Bart, Just Get a “Real” Job!

February 19, 2008

Dan and Bart Millard

As I was writing today a song from the incredible new Mercy Me album, All That is Within Me, was playing on the iTunes radio station.  It reminded me of Bart Millard’s explanation for the name of their group.  We were on a John Tesh cruise together last year and Bart told how he and two friends formed their little group and started signing at church camps.  They would receive a “love offering” and with those contributions of $20 and $30 would attempt to buy hotdogs for the week and put gas in their car.

One evening he was describing their then current situation to his Grandma.  In exasperation Grandma said, “Mercy me Bart, why don’t you just get a real job?”  And thus the name, Mercy Me, was birthed.  And eight million albums and seven Dove awards later, Bart can laugh about Granny’s frustration. 

How many of you had a Grandma, or a Mom or Dad, or Uncle Harry or respected teacher who told you to forget your dreams and just get a real job?  My own Dad understands milking cows or picking corn to create income and encouraged me to do the same.  He still doesn’t fully comprehend why people pay me for just talking and writing.  I’m not sure I do either — it’s just that I love what I’m doing — and I sure don’t miss those cows!

Yeah, that’s Bart and me in the photo. 

Is Your Music Still in You?

February 18, 2008

Oliver Wendall Holmes once said “Many people die with their music still in them.”  I think that captures the fear of about 99% of the people I see who come in for career coaching.  Either they know exactly what gift or talent they have that they are not using or they are just afraid they have somehow missed finding their real authentic and fulfilling path.

What is that area that is lying dormant for you?  I recently had a pharmacist approach me at the end of a short presentation I titled Hold Fast to Dreams.  He said he had been in his profession for 17 years and could not think of any dreams he had.  In his description of his “responsible, predictable” life it became clear to both of us that his dreams had become buried along the way.  All those childhood passions had been put aside as one responsibility led to another.  At this point he was so desensitized that he couldn’t even bring them to mind anymore.  He began weeping in the 3 minutes of our conversation as he identified his current life.

You know the symptoms:  as a child you loved singing but now you haven’t sung in 20 years.  Or every time you see a news item about the starving people in Africa it brings you to tears – but you’ve never done anything to help.  Or when you see a beautiful painting you remember how much you loved that second grade art class.  You may recognize that whenever you are around old people you are energized by the compassion and wisdom they have – but you only go there once or twice a year.

Change – even when unwelcome or unexpected, often wakes up those dormant dreams.  I have seen physicians move to the country to take up organic gardening, pastors who switched to fulfilling careers as artists, and housewives who emerged from the years of raising children to release their gifts in writing and counseling. 

“Many people die with their music still in them.  Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live…Before they know it….time runs out.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes

Check out this 7 year-old singing the National Anthem.   He’s getting his “music” out.  It will be interesting to see where he is 30 years from now.  Will he be enjoying singing as he does today?  Or will the realities of life have him push that down as “unrealistic” as he goes off to his cubicle each day?

The Theology of Work

January 12, 2008

Each week I create a new online radio podcast — answering a few of the many questions we receive. Here are some of this week’s questions you can hear discussed on the 48 Days Radio Show.1. What is the best resource for a stay at home mom who has home schooled children for the past 28 years to determine direction for a career after an unwanted divorce? I have no formal education past high school.

2. I’ve been looking for a new job for 3 months now and trying to slowly read your book “48 Days…” but I realize what I love to do is sing and play guitar and write songs and poetry. How can I make a career out of a vocation?

3. I’ve recently been given an assignment by a mentor to develop my own “Theology of Work” (i.e. God’s purpose for having us work). He recommended I read Dorothy Sayers essay entitled “Why Work” and “The Call” by Os Guinness. 1. Would you recommend these materials? 2. What do you believe God’s purpose for human work is?

4. I’m in a job I hate, with a 40-mile one-way commute. I want to get a better job, but I need a degree (which I can’t afford because I’m in so much debt). How can I get a better job when I need the education that I can’t afford without the better job?

5. I am a graphic designer. I have two questions. The first is, as a graphic designer should I send samples of my work with the resume or wait until an interview? The second is, should I use a functional resume instead of a chronological one since I graduated April 2007 and don’t have much experience?

6. I am a 37 year old pharmacist and co-owner of an independent pharmacy. I make a comfortable living, but dislike my job due to insurance and the hectic pace. I have been in and around pharmacy my entire life, and feel trapped in my current situation. Any suggestions?