BY JESSICA VOIGT-PAGE
Jessica Voigt-Page is an Australian classical saxophonist based in Texas. She teaches 70 students and hosts camps and events with her own business Saxophone Academy Austin. Her career sees her take the roles of entrepreneur, music director, private teacher, and college professor success coach for musicians. In this blog, examines the power of determination when aiming for success.
As we continue talking about the skills you have already acquired and achieved through your musical training, I want to talk about something that I know, without a doubt, has been a driving force for my own success:
The art of determination.
Throughout my life, the one thing that has remained constant for me has been my music. For anyone who is unfamiliar with me, I grew up in Australia. And not just in one town in Australia. I think by the time I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I had been to eight different schools across three states of Australia, and I also moved to the United States to complete my Masters degree in Iowa.
I have moved a lot, have seen a lot, and have adapted a lot throughout my life. It’s all been very positive, but as you can imagine, I love things that remain constant in my life. That has been music.
My love of music, and of the study of music, has led me to achieve and experience extraordinary things. But as I’m sure you can all agree, the opportunities didn’t come without effort.
The commitment to music study is not a small one.
We all like to talk about how we live and breathe our music; how it takes over every part of our lives and, in reality, it does. But it will only really provide us the opportunities we dream of if we are determined to do the work, put in the hours, and sacrifice a lot.
I think being a musician is one of the best ways to develop that sense of determination and grit. And I also believe this determination, this grit, is the largest, most career-defining skill I have developed. Without my stubborn determination to achieve my goals, I would not be where I am today. Guaranteed.
How many times have you almost quit, but then kept going because you were determined to succeed no matter what?
I have so many personal stories about being determined, and how much my life has been impacted by this one skill. But rather than telling you all of them, let’s talk about why this is a skill, and how it can set you up for success in your entrepreneurial endeavours. (And maybe, I’ll give you another juicy story along the way.)
When you set out to become a musician, it may not have been something you thought you would do forever (and it still might not be). Perhaps it was a hobby you picked up when you were really young, or it may have been something you’d always wanted to do as a kid, but didn’t have the opportunity until much later. Whatever your story was at first, it’s likely that you were excited to learn, and that you were totally lit up by the (most likely) less-than-majestic sounds coming out of your instrument.
It didn’t matter to you, though, if you sounded horrible: you loved it and were excited, and wanted to get better and better until you were the best! Or, at least, until you could play Mary had a Little Lamb without stopping.
Until you became your best.
If and when you set out to become an entrepreneur, the start of your journey will be very similar. You’ll have an idea. You’ll be thrilled by it. Excited, lit up and ready to take on the world. You’ll work on your idea instead of sleeping. You’ll daydream about your idea, and you’ll likely imagine all the success you’re going to have. You’ll be so motivated to build something awesome that you’ll do anything you have to in order to get it started. Even if it’s horrible. You’ll set goals, achieve them, and learn to get better along the way.
But what happens in music when that allure wears off? Have you ever taught a student and seen the week in which things got harder for them, and they realised that they needed to work hard to improve? Perhaps you’ve even experienced this yourself. I have. So many times.
This is going to happen in your business journey, also. You’re going to get tired, bored, and sick of it. You’re going to feel like everything sucks, and that no one is interested in what you do. You’re going to hit a wall and realise that you don’t yet have the skill or knowledge you need to overcome that hurdle. You might decide that you need to take time away from Instagram and hash-tagging everything and building your platform (no? Just me?).
Fortunately, we are all trained to deal with this.
If you didn’t have this skill, you wouldn’t have found this blog, or have reached your current level of musical ability. You would have given up long ago.
Determination is a coveted personality skill that people study to learn. Some schools now try to teach their students the art of determination and grit as a means for success. There are countless books on this topic available for purchase, and if you Google ‘learn to be determined’, there are so many blogs and articles on it it’s hard to believe.
And in all of this, you’re ahead because of your musical training.
Determination is so highly regarded as a skill because it shows you are motivated to succeed, and likely to work hard and get things done. You have an inner drive for success, and will achieve both short-term and long-term goals effectively. When you set out to become an entrepreneur, it will require you to set very clear goals along the way. You will have to set large goals, then have little sub-goals within these, which is so similar to what you’ve done as you’ve learned to play your instrument.
Being an entrepreneur is not always an easy path.
Having the ability to keep going when things get tough or uncomfortable is not something the majority of people develop through their lives. Have you thought about how much you’ve achieved in the years you’ve been a musician because you pushed yourself to do it? How many times have you almost quit, but then kept going because you were determined to succeed no matter what?
It happens to all of us for sure, but those of us who have developed the ability to keep pushing through the struggles, and keep striving to succeed, have a special ability that sets us ahead in the business world. Being an entrepreneur is not always an easy path. While you get the opportunity to set your own goals, schedules, and share what you have to offer with people in your own way, you will also have to overcome many challenges and obstacles.
Your (now) innate ability to keep pushing and keep moving forward, regardless of the frustration and fear, is what is going to drive your success in your business, and keep you on task.
We’re all so familiar with the struggle, but you should definitely give yourself credit for your ability to overcome and conquer your challenges. It’s going to be your superpower in business.
This is an edited version of Jessica’s blog, first published on www.jessica-page.com where she shares more info and tips about business skills musicians can develop to achieve success. She also offers one-on-one business coaching to musicians. You can follow her on Facebook through The Abundant Musician.