There’s a right time for everything and everyone.
I am not one of those people that believes things are fated or not fated to be. But I do believe the universe conspires on your behalf. And if you piss off the universe by trying to force something before it’s due, it alters the thread in a way that may not lead to the most beneficial outcome. Kinda like in Back To The Future, you should and shouldn’t change the past – the optimal state of being is pushing that very fine line limit, and only going over it in extreme circumstances. It’s the wisdom to know when the circumstance warrants that is the kicker. To know when to be the master of your own fate, and when to trust that you are still sowing the framework for your future.
I was in the car with one of the greatest music writers and folklorists of our time the other day. (I know – lucky me.) He was apologizing for driving slowly, as if he thought his caution operating a vehicle was something I might judge. I had to tell him that while I might seem like a fast moving person, I am actually a very slow driver. I was in a bad car accident as a young person, and I told him I figure I already had my automotive lucky pass. He responded emphatically about how I should reconsider that notion. And he recounted to me a story of a taxi driver in Chicago who gave him a kindred lecture – which of course he delivered with amazing accuracy in the dialect and intonation of the original teller.
“Now don’t you think for a minute, son, just because good luck shines its light on you, that bad luck is gonna creep up on your back…”
The essence of which was to say that I should not go around believing that luck is extinguishable or that I can only get so much of a good thing. I knew he was right. So right. And it led to a lively conversation about how easy it is to slip into a cycle of creating our own mishap. We make our own futures – and if we go about thinking something bad might happen, inevitably it will. But if we believe in good fortune, well…
So we have to go around believing our dreams will happen. We have to show them they are welcome here, and furnish them with a warm, well-lit, healthy place to move in, stay and grow. If Virginia Woolf in her day suggested women obtain a room of her own to thrive in, I suppose I would suggest in this day, everyone should create a room for their dreams and hopes – where they are protected and nourished, allowed to change over time, free of scrutiny and “dont’s” or “can’t dos” that only stifle them…
Lorne Michaels said in his OWN network Master Class, that it takes Talent, Luck and Discipline to make it on Saturday Night Live. I think that’s just about right. But my definition of “Luck” is not some mystical magical thing. I think luck is about tapping into what’s magical about yourself, and paying enough attention so you are able to court that magic in all sorts of ways and moments.
To court magic, you have to believe in yourself and trust that there are people you are supposed to know, places you are supposed to go, things you are supposed to do – without getting so myopic that you miss the cues you have to see in order to seize vital moments. You see, cues about magic and luck come from the ground. Not from big egos or places of self-importance or grandiosity. You gotta stay humble and open to see them, to feel them, even though you need courage and confidence to act on them. That’s always the toughest balance to strike.
The most important times I put this into practice is in networking. When I started out in this business I made lists of people I wanted to meet like I would conquer them – check them off as I one by one could say I had called or emailed or accosted them at a conference. Now I make lists of people and put those lists away. I keep a running list of people in a draft email that I update and save as I come across names and companies. And I just trust if I go about my business the right way, I will naturally meet these people. At the right time. In the right way. With the right project.
Maybe that comes with time and experience – that belief that I will meet people. But of course, I also know I make an effort to circulate. I mean I’m not sitting at home waiting to meet Madonna or anything. But you get the idea. I get a little kick out of removing people from the list – because I really do find that I not only meet them, but some I am able to call friends before a year is out. Pretty cool. Mind you, there are people on that list who have been there for 10 years. And that’s ok by me. In the same way, I know I let this happen to me. I don’t mind being on other people’s lists, when I can tell they are willing to let it happen naturally, too.
It’s so hard to tell when the right time is to meet someone. And even more difficult to tell is when the right time is to call on them for help, collaborate with them on a project. But I know I meet everyone for a reason.
As Maya Angelou says, “Everyone is a teacher.” In the music business, all too often people boil other people down to what they can do – and how they can be used. If we do not perceive short term utility, the person is disregarded. That type of mentality is what killed the music in music business. We have got to be lifelong students of songs and each other if we want to change that. A great idea can come from anywhere. At the right time.