Find a tribe that loves your work in all its glorious imperfection!
*Welcome to The Musician's Mindset! I'm Katie, a certified life coach and flutist who helps musicians overcome performance anxiety and bring their best selves to the stage. I would love to talk to hear your stories about being a musician and what happens for you on stage. Click HERE and we’ll find some time to chat!*
Raise your hand if you have held onto something really beautiful because you felt like it wasn’t ready. It wasn’t quite good enough.
It wasn’t perfect.
Yeah… me, too.
When I look back on the last couple of decades of my life, I see so many beautiful things. Words I’ve written, music I’ve worked on, ideas to make the world more loving and connected.
And they were all silenced.
I never brought them forth from my world into yours because I was waiting for perfect.
It can be easier to stay small and quiet. Even though it is wildly painful to be a creative who doesn’t bring forth their creations, it is familiar. It’s not pleasant, but it is a state of being that we understand. You know:
the feeling in your chest when you decide to cancel the lesson
the self-talk when you decide that you're too old and just shouldn’t try to do something new.
the numbing and shutting down after giving up.
These are neural pathways that are firmly established. Our brains naturally go to these places - as easily as tying a shoe or pouring a morning coffee. It’s habit. It’s deeply ingrained. And it takes supreme effort to push through into a new behavior.
And so a lot of times, we do what comes naturally. We quit.
As I consider some of these creations that never came to be, I ask myself: what got in the way? How can I look at myself with tenderness and try to understand what I believed to be so deeply true that I chose to be quiet instead of brave?
I think it’s this:
The act of creation - whether it is art or music or business or relationships - comes from the essence of who we are as individuals. Creation takes the purest form of us and makes it tangible, makes it something others can touch and hear and know. And when we become something that other people can touch and hear and know, we can become something that they can reject.
Her writing is indulgent and unclear.
His sound is too bright and his vibrato is too wide.
It just doesn’t sound like they connect with this piece.
There is no unique point of view here.
To the creator, one person’s negative opinion of our art feels like a rejection of us as a creative being. Like, not only did that person not enjoy my Mozart, but they also think I’m a worthless human. It is one and the same. Reject my art and you reject me.
When your art is the fullest expression of you as a human, how could this not be the case, right?
Only it isn’t. No one is listening to your playing and judging your worth as a human.
No one. I promise.
People certainly listen discerningly to music - I know I do! I have very high and specific standards for what I’m looking for in a performance. There are things I find distracting, things that I need to hear to feel moved.
And when I don’t? The performance misses the mark for me. And while I may be frustrated or choose not to hear another concert by a specific artist, I have never and would never believe that:
They shouldn’t be making art at all. I understand that there is a place for everyone’s art in this world. What resonates for me might not for you - and vice versa! That is why we need as many people creating in this world as we can.
They are a terrible person, an epic failure, and a waste of space. My opinion of someone elses art has nothing to do with their personhood. I can have preferences; I can have likes and dislikes. And the performer stands worthy through it all.
When I was a younger musician, I thought in terms of black and white, good and bad. Now I understand how nuanced art is, how nuanced humans are.
It is all opinion.
So, rather than waiting for perfect, my dear friend, bring your work forth and find your tribe. There will be people who pass - just like I sometimes do and you probably do, too. And then there will be people who sit in the hall for twenty minutes after your concert with tears streaming down their face. These are your people. These are who you make music for.
This is your tribe.
So, release yourself from perfect because your tribe isn’t looking for perfect. They’re looking for you. And you are always enough.
Next Steps and Additional Resources
Here at The Musician's Mindset, we have some incredible resources for developing and implementing mindset practices that will transform how you perform on stage.
First, check out our Personalized Mindset Tools Quiz to discover the mindset strategies perfect for YOU!
Schedule your FREE 30 Minute Call with Katie. It’s free. It’s my pleasure. And it’s the first step to releasing stage fright once and for all.
Founder of The Musician's Mindset
Katie is dedicated to helping musicians overcome stage fright and believe in their own unique artistic voice. She believes live classical music is a powerful antidote for the division, pain, and loneliness pervasive in the culture and strives to support all artists to confidently share their work with the world. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, three kiddos, a dog, a snake, and a goldfish named Orca.