Get Close to the Sun, or Get Lost in Orbit
In 2017, HBO’s “The Defiant Ones” did an incredible job detailing the rags-to-riches story of Jimmy Iovine, a music studio janitor that turned sweeping floors into a sweeping career as a music producer turned record-label boss turned digital mogul. With the $3Bn sale of Beats and well-formed relationships with many of the world’s hottest stars, it’s easy to take a step back and wonder, “How?”
What people easily forget is his time spent picking up the lingo as a janitor quickly turned into a role as a studio technician, and as luck would have it, a Sunday afternoon opportunity to conduct the boards for none other than Bruce Springsteen. That’s all it took — one chance opportunity. One break. One moment. (Anyone see Eminem around the corner?)He got his shot at that one moment because he was humble enough to take the time, effort, and focus to get close to the sun.
What Most People Want is Just Fantasy
Unsurprisingly, there’s often a huge gap between what people want, and what people have.
If that gap is present in your life, then one thing is true. You’re not doing enough.
An aspiring DJ who thinks that an infrequent track that’s uploaded on Soundcloud or Spotify is enough to catapult him/her to the next level is nothing but blind. Spin that track, DJ Naivë.
An aspiring sports agent watches the ESPYs and idolizes the men and women on the virtual fields before him. Hey Jerry Maguire, SHOW ME…THE REMOTE!
An aspiring entrepreneur believes that their digital marketing company will “probably” go viral overnight with a minuscule amount of marketing, but can’t even apply their business model to their own business. What exactly is your product — mediocrity?
An aspiring fashion art director thinks that dressing nicely every once in a while and taking a nice photo to post onto their Instagram is surely the path to gaining a massive following, and how could the fashion industry possibly not notice? Good news — you’re only one of a million other people doing the exact same thing.
There’s Two Perceptions of the World
To examine what’s missing between those who aspire and those who achieve, we look towards a psychological concept coined by Julian Rotter called the Locus of Control.
There are two types of this ‘Locus of Control’ — the external locus and the internal locus — which describe the degree of control that a person believes they control the outcomes over their own life as opposed to external forces that are impossible to influence. When tested in an academic setting in 2014, researchers discovered that, of 300 college students tested, 29.8% and 76.2% of the participants had an internal locus of control, and high self-esteem, respectively. There was a significant correlation between self-esteem, locus of control and academic achievement of the students.
Make no mistake, a belief in fate and a belief in free will are completely the opposite of one another, and so are the ensuing results.
External locus of control
An individual with a strong external locus of control concedes that the happenings of their life are out of their grasp, and believe that they’re on some pre-destined journey. These types of people do not believe in the impact of their own actions, and rationalize their path by saying things like “Oh if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be” or “It’ll all figure itself out.” By holding coincidence as fate, this world belief leads this group of people to float through their existence and hope that it all works out. FATE.
Characteristics of this mindset: gives up easily, often relies on other people to do work for them, complains, refuses to take accountability, believes was dealt a bad hand.
Internal locus of control
Conversely, an individual with a strong internal locus of control believes that every single result and action in their life is a direct result of their own actions and their own choice. These types of people believe that their choices control the running river of their lives and trust that a new choice has the ability to change the course of the river they are on. You’ll find someone with a strong locus of control spouting phrases such as “Everything is my fault” or “That one’s on me”. Individuals with an internal locus of control believe in the power of free will, and work tirelessly to change the surrounding world around them to be made in their image.
Characteristics of this mindset: disciplined, wholly accountable, works to improve the self, supports others, pulls their weight.
Who would you rather be?
The truth is, the locus of control is nothing but a fancy way to describe two very different potential perspectives of a certain situation.
External: “I got fired because my boss didn’t understand what I was going through, and/or because I was dragged down by office politics.”
Internal: “I got fired because I wasn’t in a strong emotional state at work, and/or because my professional relationships deteriorated as a result.”
Who’s the one making excuses here? Who’s telling it like it is?
External: “I didn’t get that job because they didn’t pick my resume over the 400 others and I didn’t go to ‘Harvard’ like the other applicants.”
Internal: “I didn’t get that job because I didn’t try to prove more value more than a sheet in a stack of papers, and could have done more to get connected or impress my evaluators.”
Who’s blaming the outside world? Who’s better prepared for next time?
Before you get close to the sun, stop to consider which perspective you look at it from.
Get in Your Spaceship or Get Lost in Orbit
Do you want to be a sports agent? Great — go offer to sell tickets for your local sports team, for FREE, if that’s what it takes to get closer to executives in your field that are playing a higher level than you are. There’s someone who’s dying to take your spot otherwise.
Do you want to be a gallery curator? Great — go frequent every gallery in town until you get smart enough to start adding value. There’s someone who’s dying to take your spot otherwise.
Do you want to be a professional music producer? Great — humble yourself, and start getting closer to the sun. J. Cole sat outside Jay-Z’s studio for three hours just to give him a mixtape, only to be rebuffed. Go sweep the floors at a local music studio if that’s what it takes for you to get close to the same producers and musicians that are creating at a higher level than you are. A year after J.Cole waited outside that studio, it was JayZ requesting a meeting with the same kid he had turned down. There’s always someone who’s dying to take your spot otherwise.
Because, in that last case, if you’re sweeping floors in the studio or even getting rejected by a producer with tinted car doors, you’ll overhear music production lingo that you badly need to learn. You say… “What’s an in-out switch? You mean I can change the pitch of my music with these three buttons? Oh, so studio time costs this much money if I want to get an hour to record something?”
You’re building context.
You’re creating new inputs for yourself. You’re creating new information to respond and react to, and you inevitably get smarter with each conversation you have. All of a sudden, you’re now beginning to wonder — “What does it sound like if I use these two effects at the same time?” and begin to experiment with your own sound. “What if I vary the pitch through the chorus of this song as if writing just like Bruce Springsteen in the studio?” and you suddenly create a frequency change in pitch that grabs a listener’s ear. “If I work 6 hours at the studio and pick up another 6 hours driving Lyft, can I afford 3 hours in the studio?”, and soon you’re now producing those new and unique sounds in the same studio you swept the floor in.
It’s Exposure to Heat that Will Truly Create ‘You’
The best problem solvers in the world are constantly exposed to a myriad of new ideas that change the way they view the same world they’re a part of. They constantly seek to break down their beliefs in order to make space for new solutions, new opportunities, and new perspectives that can spur the types of innovation required to move forwards. When we marry intellectual curiosity with exposure to new ideas, our internal lens shifts to cast the world in a very different set of colors than when we originally start. After all, it’s easier to paint a masterpiece from a palette of sixteen million colors rather than a watercolor kit of only ten.
Your new inputs are starting to push you forwards.
Do you believe you deserve better? Do you believe that you haven’t unlocked your true potential? Or are you waiting, patiently waiting for a life-changing opportunity to fall into your lap? Good news, there’s a solution: