Hold On Loosely…
It’s probably happened to most of us at some point. Something we had planned for a while, or had worked really hard on, or were at least really looking forward to got yanked at the last minute.
When I first started working at North Point over 5 years ago, I had something I had worked real hard on get pulled at the last minute. It was probably some music for a title package or programming for a song, or at least something I had put time, effort and care into. Needless to say, I was frustrated. REALLY frustrated.
My boss at the time, Bill DeLoach, calmed me down and let me know something real important about “Creative Survival”. He talked about how, even though the Service programming we do is a big ship, we still need to be able to turn on a dime. That means being flexible and seeing the big picture, right up to the last moment. He taught me about having thick skin and an open mind to critique and other’s opinions. And that there will often be times when we have to give up our work for the better good.
Is that tough to do for a creative person? You betcha.
But here’s what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, day after day, project after project, service after service… Having thick skin is NOT to be calloused and jaded, but rather to understand that an other’s opinion of your work relates to how appropriate your creation is to their overall vision. Their opinion of your work is NOT their opinion of your personality or of you as a person.
It’s tough though, isn’t it, to separate who you are and what you create?
Just look at it this way – people who write bad songs can still be great spouses and parents. And people who write great songs can be horrible spouses and parents.
The greatest band director I ever had was the (Grammy nominated) Jeff Kirk, who directed the Jazz Stage Band and Jazz Combo 1 at Belmont University, both of which I had the privilege of being in for 3 of my 4 years at Belmont. (Man, there’s nothing more inspiring than being the worst member of an incredible band to get you to the practice room!!)
At the beginning of each semester, Jeff would tell the group that when (yeah, not if – when…) you played something wrong or bad, that he would call you on it. And when he did, that it was not a slam on your character or personality, or his dislike of you as a person, but rather a poor choice of notes on your part, and to choose better next time. But if you kept playing those poor choices over and over, then we’d have to talk privately about your character and personality…
And what about an open mind to critique and opinion? Well, first off, an open mind usually means having a closed mouth. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about… It’s having a filter on all the stuff that runs through your head…
Then it means listening. Listening to why that creation of yours isn’t right or the project, or why that song needs to be cut. Perhaps you just didn’t interpret their request properly, or (worse yet) spend too much time investing in something without demoing a rough cut to see if it’s headed in the right direction. Perhaps you need to take a bigger look at a service as a whole, and realize that after revisiting the plan, some things simply don’t fit.
And then, after time, you learn to anticipate what works and what doesn’t.
- How much time and effort is appropriate on a creative project before a trusted opinion is needed to see if it’s heading in the right direction?
- Who offers valued, useful critique that you can build on versus who is naive on the subject? No offense to parents, spouses or co-workers in another Division, but who is knowledgeable enough to tell you if something is actually good or not?
- “See if this is working” goes a long way compared to “I’m done – here you go…”
- Anticipate the level of quality expected. Someone worth their weight will not accept sub-level creative work from you. When you keep refining and reach a level they’re happy with, you’ll know what to deliver first the next time…
These apply whether you’re playing an instrument, singing a song, composing a score, writing a script, acting in a play, painting a picture, or pretty much anything!
Except your taxes. You want to do those right the first time. Trust me, I know from experience….
(OK, long story short, one year my wife and I had 19 different 1099′s and I didn’t know anything about Schedule C or Form SC at the time when I filed. And yes, it is scary when the IRS contacts you.)
So there you go.
Go forth, create with all your heart and soul, but hold on loosely….
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I dove into all that to set up what we did – and didn’t do – this past Sunday.
The plan was to have Andy at Browns Bridge and we at North Point would get the buffered feed. Meaning we had time to do more content at the top of the service.
But we already had an opener, announcements, 2 worship songs and baptism planned – so it was full!
And the opener was a doozy, at least for the electric guitars. One they had to wood shed for hours. Literally hours! Steve Thomason told me he stayed home to practice while his family went to Longhorn Steakhouse and he missed out on a “Flo’s Fillet”. Trust me – for Steve, that’s sacrifice!
But mid-day Wednesday, we got word that Andy wanted to be live at North Point on Sunday to share his Presidential Inauguration experiences, specifically his involvement with the Inaugural Prayer Service. Once we found that out, we all pushed for the video of the prayer to be shown, and he agreed, which was cool.
BUT!!!! That meant something had to go. And in the big picture of things, it was the opener that got the axe.
So you can imagine me texting all the East band guys (especially the guitarists) 2 hours before rehearsal and telling them that the opener got cut.
Were they bummed? Oh yeah. Big time.
But, in the long run, it was obviously the right thing to do.
Oh, and here’s the kicker: The opener was moved to this upcoming week, with a whole different set of musicians having to learn it!
Different singers, different band, you name it. Everyone except the bass player. I just think that’s kinda funny….
And no – I’m not going to tell you what it is. You’ll just have to wait and see…
Let God Arise
This is a new(er) Tomlin tune, and we were able to rock it, big time. Actually turned out really good!!
Hands of the Healer
OK, thar she blows…
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East Band – Eddie Kirkland, Steve Thomason, Ben Snider, Earl South, Scott Meeder, John Carrozza, Jennifer Young
West Band – Ryan Stuart, Brad Long, Danny Howes, Wayne Viar, Richard Meeder, Mike Bielenberg, Rebecca Iraheta
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