It’s been a week of synchronicity. Barely hours after my post about believing in your own progress as a man, Obsidian at Just Four Guys posted a tome on Inner and Outer Game and their advocates. I quoted Alexis de Tocqueville in my post; Roissy riffed on a different quote from the same public philosopher, with further commentary from Vox Day at Alpha Game.
One of my points in my last post was that you don’t need to reach some arbitrary goal before you can feel good about yourself or before you give yourself permission to start deploying your game to the women of the world. Some guys get into a frame of “I can do X once I am finished with Y” and then it’s only a slight shift to start moving the goalposts to avoid taking the next step; “well I don’t look as good as I thought, I better bulk up some more before I talk to some girls,” or “I’m going to start approaching once this summer project at work is over and I have a more clear career plan.” It doesn’t have to be approaching per se, it can be developing a better social group, or even going after some personal passions you’ve put off in favor of improving your baseline health and wellness.
This behavioral block plain and simple prevents you from taking further action; you’ve leveraged one self-improvement project to block the execution of another, and you’ve done so intentionally (if subconsciously). One other flaw of this pattern is that you get into a Nice Guy way of thinking, where you believe you “deserve” a “reward” for whatever arbitrary metric you have reached. and then you set yourself up for resentment when you don’t get the reward you think should be coming to you.
Sure enough, yet another blog post published on January 15 dovetailed into the same idea expressed in my post. Peregrine John tells of his friend, a drummer, who lets him in on the secret of gigging as a small-time band:
It was Mariano who explained to me, years ago, that it’s not necessary to have a chart-topping band in order to get regular gigs, it’s only necessary to be good enough musically, and enjoyable to watch. Like a lot of classically-trained musicians, I have this idea that you shouldn’t even think about getting onstage until you’re closely approaching perfection. That includes the arrangement of the music, the skill in delivering it, and the show aspects. As any perfectionist and most musicians will attest, these are good things to aim for but take a good while to bring about. More to the point, waiting for that will both slow your abilities (which do require performance to fully develop) and cause you to pass up perfectly valid opportunities to play.
…If the audience is happy with Good which is striving to be Very Good, or Very Good on the way to Great, there is no reason not to look for paying gigs as soon as reasonably possible. Plus, if you take your music and showmanship seriously, odds are strong that you’ll be on the short list soon enough.
We don’t have to be the second coming of Aerosmith or Van Halen to get gigs. We just have to be the best choice the venue has. That’s definitely good enough. And the bar is sometimes lower than we figured.
As a musician myself, I certainly identify. I always wanted to be spot-on and perfect before taking my skills onstage or even playing in a band. I learned very early, however, that I had to put that insecurity behind me and just start playing with other musicians, compensating with energy and stage presence (and in our case, exceptional songwriting for our age and experience), and then hone my craft further in the context of the rock combo. In point of fact, it made me a much more confident and creative musician, knowing that I didn’t have to be perfect at every note and that I could be a successful performer while still improving and developing my style.