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Confidence: Where It All Begins

The world of music is a world of self-doubt, of rejection, and of people who insist on our short comings.

Often this comes in the form of parents telling us that the arts are not a viable career pursuit. Or from publishing companies telling us they’re not interested in our music. From our peers that say it could be better.

But worst of all, it comes from our own inner voice that just insists that we’re not good enough.

Vote of Confidence

I was once on a radio show where I played some of my original production and people voted on whether or not it was good or bad.

My record was at the very least voted 60% in favor of BAD. Probably worse than that. The following week, I sent it to a contact of mine at an indie publishing group and ended up selling it for $900. Now, if you have a relationship with a publisher but you aren’t under contract you know that you don’t want to flood their inbox with records that aren’t good. Why would I send him a record that a whole bunch of people said sucked? The answer is easy and complex. I sent it because I knew it was a good record.

The complexity of this idea is that it’s difficult to be objective about one’s own work and worth. It’s just as easy to let a group of people tell you “it’s bad” as it is to tell yourself “it’s good” when it’s not.

Confidence is the ability to accurately assess where you’re at and where you could be. It wasn’t about thinking all of my productions are good, it was about being honest with myself to the point where I know if a production was good or not.

Confidence goes far deeper than that. It’s not only the force that allows you to seize opportunities — it also creates opportunity. Confidence is contagious and allows others to be comfortable around us.

So how do you build genuine confidence? I myself was not a naturally confident person growing up. It’s a trait that I’ve acquired over the years, and here’s how.

Validation

Validation is when people who are more experienced and skilled let you know that you’re doing it right.

Put yourself in situations where you are the least experienced person in the room and do whatever you are tasked with doing to the utmost of your ability.

Affirmation

Affirmation is when people who rely on you to produce results are pleased.

This comes from working — a lot. Never give up on something until it makes the people who need it happy. Continue doing this until you are retired.

Self-Evaluation

There are times when I’ve completed work for a client, and the client was happy but I was not. Here, I have redone the work for myself. As they say: you are your toughest critic.

Taking The Plunge

There is a brief moment that requires special attention. It’s that moment that comes right before your about to ask out a hot date. It’s the moment right before you send a client your first draft. It’s the moment right before you walk up to someone or email someone to solicit your services.

In that moment, every self doubt bubbles up and tries to stop you. It tells you “don’t jump in, the water is cold.” And the water is cold. Your self-worth stands on the chopping block at least for a short while.

But much like a cold pool, you soon acclimate and it’s actually quite nice. It’s exhilarating and fun. The more you get used to being assertive and putting yourself out there, the more you get used to it. You get used to being accepted. And you get used to rejection and learn not to be afraid of it.

Lastly, figure out where you are, but don’t short change your potential.

Chris Athens once told me, put yourself in situations that you’re just not quite prepared for. In other words, don’t be afraid to take on risk or present yourself in a way that you have to live up to.

If you ‘re on level 5, don’t be afraid to walk into level 6. Yeah, it’s harder, and it’s stressful and you risk failure — but you also risk success. And chances are, if you can get through level 5, you can get through level 6 if you put your whole being into it. And there’s no other way to get to level 7.

The Cornerstone

Confidence is the cornerstone of success.

Confidence allows you to be aware of your own deficiencies and to overcome them without losing perspective. It allows you to admit when you’re wrong, and it allows you to stick to your guns when you’re right.

False confidence does not permit these things. A lack of confidence does not permit these things.

So be confident, be assertive and be honest with yourself and the people you work with. Highlight the abilities that you excel in, improve the qualities that you don’t. And you will succeed, with confidence.

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is a Grammy nominated and Spellemann Award winning audio engineer from Philadelphia. Matthew has mixed songs for Snoop, Sonny Digital, Gorilla Zoe, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development, 9th Wonder, !llmind & more. Get in touch: Weiss-Sound.com.

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  • Brian Shinall

    Nice and helpful! Most people are afraid to dive in and see where it takes them. Confidence is key in anyplace anytime!

  • Ѕтacктracє

    Excellent post! I am specifically reminded of personal experiences as I read this.

    “Put yourself in situations that you’re just not quite prepared for” – I would add that it’s exceedingly important to self evaluate while you pass through those situations. To just participate, to just look back and say “I did it” is not enough. The takeaway is (in my opinion) the most important piece. To ask yourself “how can I use this to build” is how you grow.

    As you said, you risk failure when you take the plunge, but the greater risk is not achieving success.

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