A Professional Perspective – Karen Hogle Brown

The theme for this month is “Things I’m doing differently.” We asked our Bootcamp Bloggers what new career choices they are making in 2012, and what is inspiring this change in behavior.

Since completing iCadenza Career Bootcamp in 2011, I have really tried to let the process of self promotion sink into my daily life as I try to change my habits so that the energy I spend is compact and as efficient as possible. Who needs to obsess over their career every second of every day? Well, me, but that can also be counterproductive and create barriers.

The biggest change I have made since bootcamp has been in my everyday thought process, and I have learned to be conscious of is all the barriers and resistance that I encounter on a daily basis. I realized that I encounter all kinds of resistance in forms that I didn’t recognize as such. Being able to see those barriers for what they are has helped me to make more rational decisions and keep some crazy feelings under control.

I had always viewed myself as a consummate professional – I view myself as always prepared/on-time/pleasant to work with/great musician, etc. However, reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield opened my eyes a great deal to the ‘professional’ mind set that I feel I had neglected to address. In his book, he describes all the possible road-blocks one can set up, mostly unconsciously, to stop us from reaching our goals. He goes on further to describe how a ‘professional’ would handle this situation, and how an ‘amateur’ would as well.

It is so easy for me to go to dark places on a bad singing day. Echos of “I’m just not good enough”, or “no matter what I do, I’ll never succeed in this” run amuck through my brain, sometimes on a daily basis. Pressfield describes this thinking as ‘amateur’. He further described that a ‘professional’ would ask themselves questions, such as “what can I learn from what happened today” and “how am I going to go about addressing this problem?” Just the other day, I was having difficulty in my practice. I was unsure of many things from whether my diction was clear enough, or if my sound was focused enough. My normal reaction in my head is to say, “You call yourself a singer? You should know exactly how to place this passage by now! You’ve only been practicing for 20 years.” I let those thoughts linger for just a moment, and then picked up the phone and made an appointment for a coaching. I realized that I’m probably being hypersensitive, and having an outside ear will be able to rationally tell me whether or not I need to change something, or if things are fine.

I have found this change of thought process to be my biggest change in behavior since completing iCadenza bootcamp, and reading Pressfield’s book. As hard as I worked, and as much as I thought of myself as a ‘professional’, I was guilty of some rather ‘amateur’ behavior. I really try to address problems and frustrations by changing my inner monologue to include questions. “What do I need to make this work? What is standing in my way? What is the next step to achieving this goal? Instead of wasting precious time and energy on self pity, why not turn the outlook around to moving forward?”

I won’t say it has been easy, but I figure changing a thought pattern is one of the hardest habits to break. Together with awareness of the barriers, and practicing a more positive response to them, I am hoping that I can maintain a positive outlook and prevent some self-sabotage.

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