3 “Internal” Behaviors for Career Transformation – in Music and Beyond

What is the difference between someone whose career appears to be moving forward in leaps and bounds, and someone who feels stuck in a rut?

The difference between these individuals is usually not how hard they work, or how talented and lucky they are. Career transformation and growth is about behavior that starts on the inside and then translates to action on the outside. The good news is that anyone is capable of this internal transformation! The bad news is that it can be really uncomfortable.

Discomfort is the telltale indicator of a growth moment. Acknowledging this discomfort for what it is — without self-judgment — and working through it in an accepting and mindful way can lead to powerful transformation – of both ones’ self and his or her career. We’ve worked with hundreds of clients with long-term projects and career growth. We require consulting clients to work with us for a minimum of 6 months so that we can see them through these uncomfortable moments – which, time and time again, lead to breakthroughs. These breakthroughs are not only external, but internal as well. Transforming your career means transforming you, from the inside out.

By embracing both internal and external transformation, you will experience profound results. Reaching your goal is as much about who you are as it is about what you do to get there. Here’s an inside look into our three key strategies for career transformation.

1. Have a clear mission and vision

What do you want? What motivates you? What values do you seek to live out in your life? Surprisingly (or not), these can be some of the most challenging questions for musicians to answer – especially when required to have concrete and specific answers put down on paper. That’s because Defining your values and mission is by nature exclusionary. It tells you what you don’t want, as much as it tells you what you do want. Once you start to get specific and clear on what you want (mission) and how and on what timeline you want to do it (vision), the whole game changes. This is always our first step with our consulting clients. To get started on this work, check out our course “Mission into Action,” which will walk you through the entire process.

2. Take responsibility for where you are

There is so much uncertainty in the arts industry on all levels – from how the hiring and auditioning process actually works, to whether a company will even exist in a few months. These dreary facts often prevent artists from taking initiative. They think, “What’s the point?” Or, it can cause a person to play the blame game. “That conductor just doesn’t like me.” It is important to acknowledge where you do not have control and to carve out the areas where you do – and to focus on those. Do you want to be performing more? What can you do to make that happen? Is there a certain role or piece that you want to perform? How can you create the context to make that happen? By taking responsibility and saying no to the “victim’s mindset” you will start to see opportunities around you, and you will become the driver of your career. This behavior gets into the topic of what it means to be an entrepreneurial artist – an important topic for another post. But the short of it is that if you take it upon yourself to create whatever it is that you want (in line with your mission), lots of opportunity will open up around you.

3. Deepen your self-awareness

Self-awareness is about recognizing your abilities, habits, and behaviors – those that are outward facing (for example, elements related to your performance, or how you communicate) and inward facing (your self-talk, for instance). It all starts by noticing, without judgment. For example, if you have a repetitive bad habit when you play a certain phrase, simply acknowledge it and ask yourself “what’s going on with that? Why am I doing that?” – completely without judgment. Often times, understanding the “why” can bring information on how to undo the habit. From that point, you can start to identify goals and areas for growth.

How do I start?

If you’ve already accepted the fact that a successful performance career depends on more than just great artistic chops, you’re on the right track. But sometimes, it can be tricky to instigate behavioral change on your own. If you think you might need a little outside help, please reach out to us – we can help you get started on your path. We encourage you to try on these behaviors by making them actionable. How do you plan to become more attentive to your mindset and intentions?

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