The optimist in me believes that if you do what you love and just work hard enough, success will follow. But the realist in me knows I'd be leaving out a big piece of the equation: LUCK. Being in the right place at the right time. I want with all my heart to believe that every talented person will have his or her day in the sun, but unfortunately, that's not always the case. I've been in Nashville for twenty years and I've seen singers and writers far more talented than I leave town because they just couldn't get a break. Did they leave too soon? There's a saying in twelve-step groups: "Don't quit five minutes before the miracle happens." But what if you've given it years and the miracle just hasn't happened? Do you keep your life on hold for the elusive "you MAY be the next big thing..." Or do you go have a quality life doing something else?
Last night, Blue Sky Riders performed a private concert in Kansas City. Our friend, Lantz Welch, gave us a ride to the event that his fabulous wife, Laura, had put together. In the car, I asked Lantz to tell me again about his "mouse out of the hole" analogy. Lantz is one of the most successful trial lawyers in America and he has a theory that he teaches to young lawyers. I'm going to try to do it justice:
When it comes to success in a career, you can work as hard as you can and be the smartest and most talented person in the room. But, if you don't have a certain amount of luck, you may never get the opportunity. My landmark case was the Hyatt Sky-walk Collapse that happened in Kansas City. What if that horrible incident had happened in Oregon? I wouldn't have gotten the call. At that point in my career I had already won a great number of cases and had shown what kind of lawyer I was. So when that huge case landed right there in my hometown, I was the one assigned to it. My success rate and track record had brought me to that point in time so when my number came up, I was ready. And more importantly, I delivered.
When that mouse comes running out of the hole, you had better be there ready to pounce or you'll miss your moment.
As I was listening to Lantz, it got me thinking: I've been plugging away at this music career for many years. I've been honing my skills and showing up every day to do the work. Then as luck would have it, four years ago, I get asked out on a date by a man I've always admired and respected. His name is Gary Burr. During the first year we're together, he tells me Kenny Loggins wants to start a duo with him. Thinking how amazing that would be, I continue my work. Six months later, Gary gets a call from Kenny saying "I just had a realization. Forget the duo; we should be a trio. And the third should be a girl. She should be a great singer as well as a strong writer. And I have a feeling you know who she is... so... any ideas?"
The mouse shot out of the hole. And I was right there.
I remember reading about a certain gymnast who worked that balance beam for years in the privacy of her gym with her coach. Then one day, the Olympics came calling.
The mouse darted out of the hole. And she pounced.
On the day of her event, she could have buckled under the pressure of that moment but instead, it was just another day at the office for her. She simply did what she did naturally. Only this time, there were millions of eyes on her and the results of her performance brought the kind of stuff dreams are made of.
I remember back when I was a waitress. I wanted to be a songwriter more than anything. So I treated songwriting like a job way before I made any money at it. I believed my break would happen one day and I did everything in my power to be ready if a publishing deal came my way. I wrote my songs; I recorded them; I shopped them around. Unfortunately, every publisher I was lucky enough to get an appointment with, said "I'm sorry; I don't have a place for you. But thanks for coming in."
I had one final appointment. Feeling so discouraged, I thought what's the point and almost didn't go that day.
But I did. And that publisher offered me my first publishing deal.
I almost missed the mouse because I took my eyes off the hole in the wall for a minute. Thank goodness I came to my senses.
What mouse are you watching for?