And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:6
(NOTE: I originally wrote this post for my songwriter coaching clients, but I left it as is to encourage anyone desiring to encourage themselves as songwriters.)
I guess it’s because we start our week with a coaching group on Monday nights, but I always start thinking about our songwriting clients on Sunday afternoon. It’s quite predictable that sometime post-lunch and pre-nap, my mind will start drifting towards the week to come and I’ll find my heart sending love and prayers out to my current and past clients. I actually start seeing your faces in my mind and hearing snippets of your songs in my ears, smiling to myself as I remember your struggles and progress. It’s an absolute joy to serve you.
Then, despite my sleepy eyes, I’ll think of something I really want to say to each of you and I’ll have to pull out the laptop and type out a little post for you, just like this one. The nap can wait a few more minutes, right?
So, today, I want to exhort you guys to learn how to encourage yourselves.
Truth is, coaching is about encouraging other people. To encourage is to “give courage.” We all need a little extra courage sometimes, so our coaching calls are aimed at helping you make as much out of the online training as possible, as well as to zero in on what’s working for you and what’s not. A lot of time I find myself just trying to boost your belief in yourself and your talent. You are talented. God has called you. You have strengths to be honed and weaknesses to be identified and worked around, sure, but you have to believe it the most. I can’t believe in your dream more than you do.
One of the greatest keys to anyone’s success is the ability to encourage themselves, or, to give themselves courage when courage is nowhere to be found. Songwriting requires as much courage, if not more, as anything else. You’re not only trying to write a great song, but you’re going to put it out for people to hear and judge. Songs aren’t written to be hidden, but to be heard. This is risky stuff. You start asking yourself, “What if no one likes it? What if I’m not really talented? What if I can’t figure out how to use imagery or write great melodies? How will I then live?!”
Any successful art form is a blend of skill and mindset. There are plenty of talented artists who never make it anywhere because they lack the courage and the tenacity to pursue their place. There are also plenty of tenacious people who never gain the real skills they need and thus continue to foist very mediocre songs on the world (just cruise Youtube for proof). But the combination of talent, skill, and courage are unbeatable.
But what do you do when you’re unhappy with a critique? Seriously – what do you do? Do you sulk? Pout? Get mad? Quit? Get depressed? Feel despondent? Eat more to dull the pain of rejection? None of that helps, believe me. I’ve tried it all and none of it makes the song better. Only a quality decision to get back up and go at it again ever makes songs mature. This is easier for some than for others, admittedly, depending on your propensity for self-pity. Mine is pretty high and a lot of my personal development has been spent on losing the victim attitude and taking full responsibility for my own growth.