Chris Boardman Music Blog: Right vs. Wrong: does it matter?

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.

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