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  • Cairn Magill

A Passionate Encounter




How we met


When out socialising one night in Dublin I met a man with passion. Our chance meeting led to an insightful conversation. The man I met, (to protect his identity, I shall call him Thomas) told me some of his struggles. Thomas is semi-retired who was very successful in his career. He continues to work albeit it on a part-time basis in a different organisation mostly as an adviser. He also retired quite young. As the conversation continued, I learned about one of his greatest passions; playing music and writing songs.


When Passion Blind sides you


As Thomas spoke, I sensed an equal measure of frustration to match his passion. You see Thomas is in a band and has been for years. The members of his band are all older than him. Thomas stated that each member has an equal love of music but it became clear that their motivation, circumstances and time they can devote to writing and producing music is as individual as they are.


Thomas was extremely passionate about music and has a huge desire to play gigs and get their material out there. His dream is to gain a fanbase who follow their music and for their material to be covered by other musicians.

Without realising it I had already begun to “coach” Thomas because I am inspired by that level of passion and want to see him succeed. Thankfully, I have developed a good sense of self-awareness to realise what I was doing and changed tact and just listened to him.


Here are the facts; his band don’t have a genre of music they subscribe to. They don’t have a recognisable sound. They play a mixture of ballads, rock, blues, a little jazz and folk music. They don’t have a manager, a YouTube station or any social media platforms. Some members meet up and practice but rarely do they all at the same time. Some need money to supplement their income some don’t. In short, they have no regular gigs or venues to perform in. Sadly, what they don’t have is a shared desire to become discovered, to develop a following, to have their songs played by other artists or to gig on any regularity.


Leaving your dream to Chance


Thomas is still pushing through and he believes if he just had that one contact, that one opportunity to showcase their talent then they would break through. There is no doubt his passion was genuine but the frustration he experienced was palpable. As we continued to talk, I tried to listen without interjecting as he had not asked for a coaching session in fact, I doubted he heard when I told him I was a coach. Thomas was full of ideas and suggestions and it was clear he thinks a lot about how this breakthrough could happen. He talked about chance encounters other musicians had and their strategies to plug and promote their music and get airtime and gigs. He has a host of ideas and plans in his head that wants to implement to get that all important break-through. Each one taking them down a different path. As I never heard him or his band play and I don’t even know if they are good (not that I profess to be an expert) or whether I would like their type of music and the truth is they could be brilliant or indeed quite the opposite.

The point is, Thomas is stuck for lots of reasons. One, because he has not paused to think of a promotional strategy and two because of his loyalty and commitment to the band members. He is fighting an uphill loosing battle. There is no shared vision and no shared commitment.


The Fear Factor


Thomas believes they are the best musicians he has ever heard. That may well be true. However, Thomas will continue to experience frustration for as long as he remains in this group because of a lack of a shared vision, dream and desire. He was blind to this fact. He wants to play with the best but if there is no cohesiveness no direction and no desire, they will remain anonymous, with no following and no gigs.

On the way home I pondered the conversation and asked what is it that keeps him glued to the group? Could it be fear? Fear of leaving them behind? Fear of judgment from them? Fear of not being good enough to go it alone without them? Fear of not having people to share this experience with? Fear of being brave and bold? I will never know because I did not ask him – it wasn’t the right time or place. Yes, they could well be the best musicians around but without passion and commitment to equal his, he is expending energy to promote a desire that will not be fulfilled.


Courage to Let Go


There is a lesson in Thomas’ story for us all. Sometimes we have to let go of what we have and what is familiar in order to be available to receive something greater. This requires courage. It is easy to stay within our comfort zone and have surety even if that surety keeps us stuck. In our comfort zone we know who we can rely on. Stepping outside of it will create confusion, insecurity and sometimes loneliness. Yes, the fear of the unknown is powerful and unless we understand this and be brave enough to face it, we will never know our true potential or how great we can become. Every encounter and relationship have their purpose. This is neither wholly good or wholly bad. This is not to say we use people for our own ends but rather when the purpose of that relationship has been met and there is no shared interest, investment or reason to keep the relationship alive then give thanks for the experiences and friendships and with gratitude move on. Endings can be painful however what can be more damaging is clinging on. The desire to belong and have approval and acceptance from others is a primitive one. The need for such belonging and acceptance is wired into our DNA. That is why choosing to say goodbye to pursue our own dreams is so scary. Every successful person at some point or other has this process to go through. The very thing that drives them through this process is that their dreams are big enough to propel and even compel them to do so. Make sure your dreams and passion are BIG! Big enough to pull you through all the scary steps that are required to reach your goal. If you reach the end of your life which of the following statements will be your last; “Yes I did it! It was tough at times but so dam worth it and the journey was exhilarating and boy do I feel fulfilled!” or will it be; “If only I had the courage and the strength. I wonder how it would have turned out? Guess I will never know.”


When the vision is not clear


The other lesson John’s story illustrates is the lack of a cohesive vision and plan. Without it no wonder the band cannot define their music or sound. This impacts everything else – how do they promote themselves? Every person will ask the same question I did; “What type of music do you play?” How can they promote themselves to the right producer, radio host, or get bookings in the right venues? Without this clarity no prospective fan can identify with a non distinctive sound. And so too, is it like this in business. Without a clear vision there can be no direction to go in.

While building my business, I have no guarantee I will “make it” but one thing is for sure the only person I can rely on to make things happen for me, is me! I am walking my talk and step by step making daily progress towards my dream. It does not matter the breadth of a step I take every day but what I know for sure, what does matter is that I take a step every day.


Lessons from Thomas’ story


1. Have BIG vision – It needs to be huge enough to pull you through the scary stuff

2. Define what you do – so people immediately understand

3. Devise a strategy – get help to roadmap it out if need be

4. Ensure everyone shares the dream and the vision and agrees on the strategy – if not rethink

5. Be brave, bold and powerful – step outside your comfort zone – it’s the only way

6. Be prepared to say goodbye to some people as you go forward with your dream. Be gracious for their help support and friendship.

7. Lean into it with everything you got!

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