I heard this on a podcast and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
What I’m about to describe applies to all people in all jobs, not just indie artists, singers, and songwriters.
This fact goes hand in hand with self-awareness which I’ve written about before.
There’s a story I heard (second-hand) from some paid coaching I purchased. The person telling the story was talking to his billionaire friend. He was endorsing another friend’s resume to the billionaire saying, “He came from this family, he has a Master’s Degree in so-and-so from this amazing institution, and blah, blah, blah”.
The billionaire’s response was simple, “Yes, but is he worth a damn?”
The billionaire didn’t care whatsoever about his resume and “what he looked like on paper”, he cared about his self-awareness and his common sense.
What kind of responsible is this person?
The more self-aware we become, the smarter we are because we recognize our strengths and weaknesses to craft our life around reality. We strengthen and deepen our character when we’re aware of what tools we’re missing, and we take action to find these missing tools.
We often think we have it together, but when we’re not self-aware, we are bullshitting ourselves.
These fictional stories manifest themselves in multiple ways including what kind of responsible you are.
There are 3 kinds of responsible.
The first kind is responsible. Responsible people do what they say they’re going to do, work hard, follow up, and take care of all business in their lives.
The second kind is the opposite of responsible, which is irresponsible. We all have at least one irresponsible friend. They are always a hot, ghetto mess!
They don’t do anything, they’re always late, they party all the time. Sound familiar?
They completely fail at any kind of functional reality and therefore, irresponsible people don’t find happiness or success simply because they’re not willing to work for it.
Sometimes we feel like they find happiness. Sometimes it looks like they do, but they don’t.
You know, like that friend you have who’s Facebook page is a complete fantasy; at least to their lives.
They think they know how to define happiness, but they don’t know how to work for it. Therefore they don’t know happiness. It’s a destination in their minds.
The definition of happiness different for everybody which means the individual has to work to find what it means to them. Otherwise, they’re just crafting their lives to a societal cookie cutter and the society responds with acceptance, but the individual is not truly happy.
Can you guess what the third kind of responsible is?
NON-responsible is #3.
Non-responsible are people who claim to be responsible but get nothing done and if you ask them, they’ll tell you it’s not their fault.
Who did you just think of?
Non-responsible have an excuse for everything.
I was raised by a Marine. Excuses were a luxury my sisters and I were not afforded.
I would have conversations with my dad like this,
Dad: “Did you mow the lawn?” (knowing full well the lawn was ignored)
Me: “Well I started but then this happened and that happened and to top it all off, this crazy thing went down.”
Dad: “Ok, but you didn’t answer my question. I understand what happened and why it happened but what EXACTLY was the outcome with regards to the lawn?” “Did you execute or not?”
Dad: (he was an Officer in the Corps who oversaw the Drill Sergeants so he had to have a tone of voice that ensured he would not be misunderstood, misinterpreted, or ignored. Oh, and he had to be louder than the Drill Sergeants. You get the picture now) “So why do I care about all this other crap? You have plenty of great excuses and I’m proud of you and your creativity for birthing these incredible challenges, but the bottom line is that the lawn didn’t get mowed. Excuses are like butts (he used a more colorful word, I assure you), everybody has one and they all stink. So, what are you going to do right now?”
Me: “I’m gonna mow the lawn, Dad.”
It was either mow the lawn or get a size 10.5 up my keester.
Non-responsible people can’t or don’t care about communicating. The outcome is predictable. They get frustrated that people don’t understand what they’re trying to convey and ultimately blame these people and the world for not understanding.
They don’t feel heard.
It’s the job of the communicator to ensure they’re being heard, NOT the other way around.
I was watching an episode of Shark Tank the other day. After the pitch, the panel all passed on the offer. But, as the future entrepreneurs were being led off the stage, one of them says to the panel, “But I don’t feel you HEARD me!”
To which Mark Cuban responded, “It’s not MY job to hear you, it’s YOUR job to make sure that you’re heard!”
The moment the entrepreneur said, “You didn’t hear me” was the instant he revealed himself as a non-responsible person which I assure you was a complete turn-off to the panel of very successful Type-A investors.
Does that make sense?
Guess what? Record labels don’t appreciate non-responsible artists. Neither do any of the business relationships you’re going to encounter on your way up.
I have previously broached this subject in a couple different blogs 10 Worst Song Demo Mistakes and 12 Thoughts On Unprofessional Songwriters. When a songwriter hands in a crappy sounding, cheap, amateur song demo and says or thinks, “It’s the producer’s job to recognize my amazing song through all the sonic challenges” this is an example of non-responsibility.
By the way, in this instance, it’s almost guaranteed that the song sucks, because the person is non-responsible and therefore doesn’t have enough self-awareness to improve their craft. A crappy sounding demo of a hit song is almost like a Unicorn; I’m pretty sure they don’t exist.
How about this non-responsible viewpoint, “I can’t find any good players where I live so I can’t put a good band together.”
This is BS too. I grew up in Delavan, WI, a town with a population of 8,500 people. My graduating class was 189 kids. Somehow, I managed to put a band together that made it to FL via the Allman Brothers and then onto Rob Cavallo at Warner Bros. records. 7 years on the road.
That wasn’t luck, it didn’t happen by accident.
Do you see how this is a non-responsible attitude?
I can never say this enough, communication is NOT YOUR INTENT, but what is actually being received by the listener.
Responsible artists understand that if the audience isn’t picking up what they’re putting down then they must change the message, approach, content, etc. This applies to their art AND their marketing.
Non-responsible people just complain that they feel like they’re never heard. Which is true, they’re probably never heard, but that’s only because they suck at communicating and refuse to take responsibility for fixing it.
It’s just too easy to get angry and blame them for not understanding.
Make no mistake, communicating is an artform all its own. This what makes marketing music so exciting for me.
What other things are affecting your career in a negative way that is in your control but you respond in a non-responsible manner?
Marketing? “I’m an artist, so I don’t have time for marketing.” = Non-responsible
How about business? “I don’t have time, money, or the inclination to be a business person.” = Non-responsible.
These non-responsible outlooks are keeping you right where you are. These mindsets do NOT get you into a position of growth.
You need to evaluate everything in your life at the moment and take a good, long, hard look at what you’re being responsible about and non-responsible about.
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