Friday, December 12, 2008

Good Will to All

It's December, and I guess I'm getting a little sentimental. Every time the end of the year rolls around, it's natural to take stock of where we are and where we seem to be heading in life. Personally, I always find myself astonished that I've actually gotten away with another year of playing music for a living! The exact mechanics of sustaining such a career are a bit mysterious, but it definitely has a lot to do with personal relationships and good will.

It is a small world after all, especially in the music business. Word gets around fast, so even if you aren't altruistically motivated to be nice to people, you will certainly need to be agreeable simply for practical reasons. I like to think of my relationships with people sort of like gas tanks! Every person I know has a certain reserve of good will towards me, and every interaction I have with that person serves to either fill up or deplete that reserve. The goal is to maximize everyone's good will reserve towards me.

The funny thing is, although a good will reserve can be depleted very quickly and easily, there is virtually no way to rapidly build good will. It can only be built up to a high level through demonstrating steady, long-term positive attitude, ethical behavior, and reliability. Sure, referring someone to a high paying gig will score you some quick brownie points, but a one-time favor won't engender as much loyalty as years of showing up on time, or handling many small problems without complaint.

I have witnessed many cases of highly competent musicians gradually working their way up to positions of trust and gainful steady employment, only to lose it all over a single ethical breach. I've learned firsthand how easily good will can be destroyed through neglect, or by being unpleasant. In one case, I lost a gig because, after a particularly rough performance, I told the bandleader that I thought he needed to practice more. I've also lost gigs simply because I fell out of contact with the bandleader, or turned down one too many gigs. People have short memories, and allowing yourself to be forgotten is one way of depleting good will.

Always, always, always stay on good terms with everybody whenever possible. If you have to leave a gig for any reason (even if it's because you hate the gig!), try not to make it personal. Don't let people walk all over you, but leave your bridges unburned, because frankly, there's no advantage to be gained from burning them. Exercising patience and tolerance in all of your relationships will serve you in good stead as you advance to better gigs, where positive attitude is a prerequisite. It's also better for your blood pressure! Peace.


sexyguitar said...

That's a great blog. Being thankful and maintainig a positive attitude are the tools for survival in stormy weather as well as bright sunshine.

Take care;


Teira Doom said...

Hi Doug,
I thought I was the only one who took stock of my my goals, accomplishments and things I would like to change.

The best gift that any of us can give is peace and blessings.