music

Why You Shouldn't Pursue Perfection

A couple weekends ago my band and I performed a show at The Elbo Room in Chicago.

               photo credit: Rena Naltsas @renacaptures

               photo credit: Rena Naltsas @renacaptures

Recently I shared a concept called The Law of Diminishing Significance (LDS for short),

which states that the more times you do something, the less significant each occurrence becomes, going from insanely stressful to almost instinctive.

This was our 4th time playing together as a band. Check it out:

Everyone who came to the show had a great time and said we played an awesome set. While we totally brought the house down, here’s what you don’t see happening in that video:

  • The venue ran late with everything, so our set time was cut almost in half, and we played half the songs we originally intended.
  • The audio levels weren’t great on stage, which made it tough for me to hear the music during some songs, and therefore it was difficult to keep on beat.
  • One of our songs (not in this video) I actually forgot the lyrics of the second verse momentarily, so I spit the 3rd verse second, and the 2nd verse third.

Despite all that, we still played a hell of a show and audience members who have been to previous shows said this was our best one yet.

We had a bunch of things go wrong, but we still rolled with the punches. If all of that happened during our first show, I might have freaked out. But because we’re at the point of being in a flow state, according to the LDS, unexpected events don’t phase us.

 

You learn to become okay with not having control over every particular detail because you’ve developed enough confidence in your own ability to MAKE SHIT HAPPEN.

 

That doesn’t happen without getting past the first phase of LDS, though. Whatever your endeavor is—whether that’s starting a side project, making a career change, pursuing a creative passion—you’ll never become good at it, comfortable with it, and a natural in it without acknowledging that getting started is the hardest part, but that it gets incrementally easier from there.

 

Why is getting started so damn hard?

 

There was a time not too long ago (I'm talking only a year ago) where I was TOO SCARED to perform because I felt like things weren't "ready" yet. I thought everything had to be perfect.

What have I learned? 4 P's:

 

PURSUING PERFECTION PREVENTS PROGRESS

 

You'll always hold back in the name of perfection.

Here's what you need to do instead:

  1. Acknowledge that the first time you do something/put something out there, it will probably be your worst go at it. It's a fact. You have no real practice at it, so of course it's going to suck (relative to your future efforts). 
  2. When you embrace a "hey, this is gonna suck anyway" attitude, you take the pressure off yourself, and simultaneously bring down the fear. (It's important to note that this doesn't mean you stop caring about it or putting effort into it. Instead, it means you protect your own ego by knowing you can only go up.)
  3. When you get past the Fear of Getting Started Hump, you now have something to your name, and a standard for comparison.
  4. You make steady improvements. You get comfortable. You become a natural.
  5. Now you focus on optimizing, exploring new angles, and becoming the best.

 

Don't hold back. Get started.

 

In the comments section below, let me know how the idea of getting started makes you feel. Does it freak you out? Motivate you? What's on your mind?

 

Take care and be awesome today,

 

Rajiv


Carrie Underwood is more Hip Hop Than 2 Chainz

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As part of Idea Lemon's newest project, The Curious Collaborative, my April 2013 is a commitment to listening to only country music. Let me say upfront that I HATE country music.

At least I thought I did, anyway. The goal of The Curious Collaborative this month is to engross yourself in a genre you don't like or don't listen to so that you can find something within the genre that you might actually like. Or, if you find that you still hate it all, at least you can say so from an educated standpoint. So much of what we say we don't like are things that we have never tried, and we steer from trying them because we're afraid we might actually like them.

It's been two weeks into the music experiment and I can no longer make the blanket statement, "I hate country music." I have found certain songs and artists I can not only bear, but actually enjoy. Artists such as Eli Young Band and Rascal Flatts, and songs like If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away.

This brings me to Carrie Underwood, and the reason why you probably decided to click on this in the first place.

When her songs pop up on Pandora, chances are it's going to be a song I'll like. It hit me the other morning that there's a reason I keep enjoying finding her new songs (new to me, anyway): She tells stories. Her songs are narrative compositions with all the elements of a captivating caper. There is a defined plot, rising action, climaxes, falling action, antagonists, protagonists, and sometimes even plot twists.

I had the revelation a few days ago that this is the reason why I like Carrie Underwood's catalog and the same reason why I love hip hop music. In hip hop, punchlines are what hook me, but strong narratives are what reel me in. And that's the foundations of strong rap music. We don't consider 2Pac, Biggie, Jay-Z, Nas, GZA, NWA, Big L, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Eminem, etc. to be the best at their craft because they throw down a funny metaphor or hard-hitting punch line. We hail them as the best because of their uncanny ability to tell us stories through song.

I laugh at 2 Chainz. He has catchy lines and easy to dance to songs, yes. But at the end of the day, 2 Chainz is a joke. He's not clever ("She got a big booty so I call her big booty"), and his songs are an arsenal of random phrases that just so happen to be put together in a song.

I put this same knock on Eminem's 2009 album Relapse. He still raps about the same perverted and demented content as usual, but it's not in a linear fashion. In many of the songs on Relapse you could take one line and insert it anywhere else in the song and not lose the context or (barely apparent) cache.

2 Chainz may be a rapper, but 2 Chainz is not hip hop. Carrie Underwood may be a country singer, but she is on the same plane as hip hop.


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Author: Rajiv Nathan 

Rajiv Nathan is the co-founder of Idea Lemon with a background in digital and mobile strategy. He is passionately curious, a people-meeter and lives by the motto, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."