Chris Boardman Music Blog: September 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

Right vs. Wrong: does it matter?

Let’s face it: creative work is hard. If you care deeply about the result there has to be some level of anxiety and apprehension. Being creative is not about following rules. It is about breaking rules in a way that is pleasant or acceptable for our fans, employers or friends. We have to invest ourselves emotionally to put our stamp on the work to achieve great results and accept the risks that come with it (failure, rejection, etc).

Trendsetters accept the risks in large part because they do not need nor crave acceptance or rejection. They have no choice.  They just do what they do.

The rest of us have to wrestle with how much risk to absorb. Everyone handles it differently but almost all of us will ask the question: “how do I make the right choice?” Here are some concepts that have worked for me.

Step One: Define your purpose

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Without a firm grasp on what outcome you want to achieve your chances of success are reduced to chance. A well-defined plan with clear objectives will become a roadmap enabling you to successfully complete your task.

Step Two: Listen and learn

A successful plan includes taking the time to learn how to effectively communicate with your collaborators. Listen to them. Understand their needs. Be a team player. Again, your plan and purpose will help you see where the subtle opportunities lie.

Step Three:  Look for the best choice

Remove the word “right” from the process. Being right implies there is a wrong. Instead of focusing on approval, analyze the situation to find the best choice. This will help eliminate any fear you may have and create an environment for you to do your best work.

Step Four: Execute

At this point you will have an idea or two. You will be judged by how well you execute. If you can’t execute your idea fantastically reevaluate your idea to fit within your capabilites. Unrealized execution will not add value and may inadvertently sabotage your success.

Step Five: Get to the end

Commit to an idea and get to the end. This could be a song, a phrase, a chord progression anything. Once you have gotten to a stopping point it now becomes something real in the world. Then, and only then, can you be objective about the work. (Remember it’s not you that is being judged, it is the work).

Step Six: Keep your standards high

There is opportunity to improve your work in every project you do. Be honest when appraising your own work. Resist comparing yourself to others. You are you and this is your journey. If your standards are higher than what is expected of you your chances of success will increase dramatically.


The biggest problem most of us face is having confidence in ourselves. If you take the time to understand the problem, know your role and be honest about your capabilities you will add value not only to the work, but to yourself as well. As your self-worth grows so will your confidence.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Process vs. One and Done

Sure. We would all love to win the lottery. Becoming an instant millionaire is certainly seductive especially for those who love a game of chance (odds of winning the Mega Millions Jackpot is 1 in 258,890,850). But would you stake your life on those types of odds?  Would you be prepared for the unintended consequences that a windfall brings?

A vast majority of us succumb to the notion that “if I only had more” then life would be less stressful. In a sense we buy in to the idea that “grabbing the brass ring” is our only way out- our sole ticket to success. Too many times those who are lucky enough to win the lottery are unprepared for what comes next....sometimes squandering their winnings and ending up right back where they started.

Learning to grow

A farmer learns patience because he is a supporter of a process rather than being in control. Seeds are planted in the spring. He nurtures the crop through the year. Along the way he cannot “game the system” or speed it up. He has to allow the process to evolve...one step at a time. In addition he has to accept and be content with what he has control over and what he does not. If he does his job well there will most likely be a crop ready for harvest in the fall. 

And, because they understand the process they can focus their attention on inadvertent events that may sabotage the outcome (weather, disease, resources). Their livelihood is dependent upon being prepared for any unforeseen challenge or situation.

Incremental Success

Steve Jobs is an interesting example. Apple Inc. was famously founded in a garage with an initial order of just 500 hand built computers. The most important part of the Apple story was Jobs was aware of the opportunity that existed and was able to take advantage of it. His view was on the horizon- beyond what was physically before him at the time. Apple then dealt with each challenge as it presented itself to incrementally build Apple into the company it is today. 

If you want to reach any objective define your goal and create a strategy that will enable you to achieve your goal. 

Then- it is up to you to tend the fields and keep your eyes open.