Chris Boardman Music Blog: May 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Are you asking the right questions?

The beginning of any project creates a wave of excitement that is the fuel of creative endeavor. It is powerful. It is seductive. It can be blinding.

Of course, in that endorphin-laced state it is easy to think that you have all the answers…that you know all the answers- in advance. When these feelings subside it is easy, and common, to lapse into your own personal vortex of threatening storm clouds and wonder: “OMG! Now I have to do something! I have no idea what to do?”

Truth is we all end up somewhere in the middle of those two scenarios but the fact remains that you still have to deliver on your promise to complete the creative work (to yourself, your bandmates, your employers etc). 

You may know the answers but…are you asking the right questions?

To be successful, we must learn to be both subjective AND objective about our work. I call this dichotomy: being the participant and the observer.

What has helped me develop this schizophrenic ability is viewing my work as an entity unto itself. That way I’m talking about the work…and my personal self-worth is not at issue.

If you are blinded by your emotions at the beginning you run the risk of serving your ego… and not the project.

If you are cold and calculating the creative work can easily be dry and uninteresting.

The key to developing this participant/observer skill is to be aware of your emotions during and after you write something. Get to know yourself. Know how you feel emotionally and physically when you are in either state. Then you will be in control of yourself during the process…and not run by your ego. (There is definitely a time and place for ego…just not when you are evaluating your work).

Benefits you will receive from developing this skill?
  • You will ask better questions
  • You will listen better
  • You will become your own judge of success or failure (in terms of your efforts. We can’t control others opinions….only our own). 

If you can’t ask the right question….you’re dead in the water before you begin.

For more about creative tips and tricks:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Finish your thought - about creativity

Finish your thought and get to the end.

How many times do we get distracted after we have a burst of inspiration? How often do we say to ourselves: “It can’t be that easy!”.

It is common to think that we have to toil and struggle to create. That may be true some of the time. But the only pain is putting in the time finish the project - whatever it may be.

Having a "burst of inspiration" is just another way of describing the joy we feel in the moment of creation. It is in that moment of creation that we subliminally call upon all of our knowledge and experience. It is in that moment that we see the right answer…the answer that eludes us when we struggle.

A key to moving forward is to understand the difference and to know which state of mind you happen to be in.

Learn to recognize when you are in a state of bliss about a creative moment and then articulate what that moment means. Write it down. Record it. Do whatever you have to do to memorialize that feeling because it is fleeting and will never return in exactly the same way.

Then, when you get to the painstaking process of realizing your idea you will be able to recall what got you motivated in the beginning instead of second guessing yourself, overthinking or blithely moving on to the next idea.

Capture the moment, finish your thought and get to the end...whatever that may mean. The more you practice this the easier it will be to trust your instincts. The result will be more time spent in the act of creation and less time worrying about it.

For more about creative tips and tricks:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Consider the source

Consider the source when asking for opinions or advice.

When asking for someone’s opinion it is wise to remember that everyone has their own agenda. They are more concerned with themselves than with you even if they appear to be empathic. They are wrought with their own fear, insecurity, needs and wants.

Everyone has their own motives.  When motives and interests align , like teacher and student, then all is good.

But what about when we are working for or with someone else? Do your clients, competitors and peers live by some invisible altruistic guidelines?  Do your hopes and dreams magically align with theirs? In a utopian world everyone would be truthful. The reality is that not everyone tells the truth in large part because their personal truth is as elusive as yours. Try going a whole day without 1 little fib to yourself.

As artist’s we have devoted countless hours to our craft in hopes that we reach our full potential…even surpass it. If you are trying to make a living as a creative why not put the same emphasis on training ourselves about how to navigate in a business environment? I doubt you would expect to hit a home run in your first at bat nor would you walk on stage to perform a concerto without first putting in the time to prepare yourself to excel.

Communication skills that will help you in a business environment include:
  • Read body language
  • Understand the importance of tone of voice and language
  •  How you feel in the room….at the moment… in the heat of battle.
  • Confidence that you are prepared for the task.
  • Decipher exactly what is being asked of you
The more you understand about the other person’s problems the easier it will be to determine if the advice you are receiving is unbiased and helpful or, if there is a hidden agenda at play.  Are they having a bad day? Is this the way they always treat people? Is this too good to be true?

More importantly: you will know if you are the right person to solve their problem, reduce their pain.

To be sure, agendas are not always a bad thing but, the better prepared you are to read the context of the situation, understand the subtle, non-verbal communications the easier it will be to understand if a person’s needs, preferences and taste are a match with yours. 

At the point of making a decision you will have ask yourself how you feel about it. This is when you will weigh your self-growth and personal training against the opportunity being offered.
The better prepared you are in knowing what you want….the easier that choice will be.