From the archive of the Lefsetz Letter which although proclaiming to be about the music industry talks about much more.
Making it can’t be some thing, it’s got to be the ONLY THING. You’re gonna want to sacrifice, but you’re gonna have to forgo more than that, miss out on parties, on social rituals, all in the goal of achieving your heart’s desire, which you think will satisfy you but it won’t, but you’ve got no choice.
Its source is unknown. Sometimes you’re just standing in the shower, other times you’re reading a book, watching a movie. It’s not conscious, it sneaks up on you, and then your goal is to capture the moment. Don’t second guess yourself, that’s when you lose it, the truth is greatness is all about an edge, you’re not fifty percent better than everybody else, more like five. But that five makes all the difference. And that five is unfiltered, unjudged, oftentimes unstudied. Sure, chops help, but when inspiration hits you’ve got to run on instinct, be willing to break the rules, all in service of getting that inspiration down.
You can’t make it alone. You need someone to lead the charge. This is the hardest part, finding someone who believes who will get you to your destination without ripping you off. The greats are socially awkward, but the conveyors see something in them, a spark, that they can bring to the public, to make money.
There’s a market for me-too, there’s a market for assembly line, the factory needs workers, but that’s about stardom, not art. What is it that you want to achieve? If it’s solely about making money, go elsewhere, you can make more there, especially today. If it’s about acceptance and accolades, you’re on the right track. You’ll get ’em, but they won’t be satisfying, they won’t fill you up. That’s the dirty little secret of the greats, they do it to connect with others and when they find out success doesn’t fix their lives they can’t do it anymore.
You must be a student of the game, if you live in a vacuum you won’t succeed. You’ve got to know what’s already successful, you’ve got to envision your place in the firmament, you’re a salesman, and your art is your product. If too much convincing, too much backstory, too much explanation is required, you’ll miss the target.
You’ve got to believe you’re the best, that you have something to add, even though you’ll have moments of extreme doubt, when you believe you’re worthless and undeserving.
TUNING OUT THE NOISE
People want to put you down, they want you to be like them, the longer you listen the more discouraged you become. You are the game, everybody else is the audience.
Your one big break is not. The road is littered with not only bumps, but hills. The mountaintop is far in the distance, you think you can see it, but you cannot. Keep going.
He not busy being born is busy dying. If you’re repeating yourself, if you’re in a rut, you’re already in the rearview mirror. Admit mistakes, try new things, you stumble into greatness, it’s not about calculation.
All the time, you’re not only hoovering up information, mistakes correct your course. And you gain knowledge of people, you realize so many are full of crap. Finding those who can truly aid you is a lifetime journey.
You will be. If you were good at finance, you’d be working on Wall Street. But those people can’t do what you do, and believe me, they want to. If you’re worrying about leaving money on the table, if you’re worrying about getting ripped off, if you can’t stop thinking about dollars you’re gonna be destroyed, if you get off the launch pad at all. Sure, money counts. But if you make it, there will be enough. And with your name attached you can earn a living for the rest of your life, which those who ripped you off probably cannot.
RESTING ON YOUR LAURELS
You can’t give people what they want, but what they need. You’ve got to continue to test limits. Once you second guess the audience you’re finished, you’re an oldies act, you’re culturally irrelevant.
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