Last year was a pretty good year for me when I think about it. A lot happened that I'm thankful for, despite my constant impulse to try and "do better" this year. One of the things that stands out is my participation on the Performance Team. In short, we started out as a group of amateur and semi-professional musicians from various backgrounds, and before the end of the year we had released a professionally recorded album.
So how in the world did that happen?
Especially when you consider that it typically takes a lot longer for groups (15 people in our case) to get something like this done. I've asked myself this question quite a few times. While talent and technique definitely played a part, I would say the "magic" came from the following 3 steps:
1. Commit, don't just consider.
I know it sounds cliché, but there's no other way around it. Making a real commitment always guides the rest of the process. And it requires some serious introspection: Is this really what I want to do? How bad do I want it? What am I willing to sacrifice?
The times I failed to achieve my creative goals were the times I never really made the commitment in the first place. I have to check myself often. It helps to take a look in the mirror and get in touch with my true intentions before moving forward.
2. Show up, no matter what.
Look, there's no big secret here. Just show up. It's really, really important. Especially when we're talking about being on a team. Whether it's practice, rehearsal, training, performances, etc. -- be there. It's part of the process and, I believe, the process is the point.
Showing up automatically raises the confidence level of the entire team. It lets others know that you value this enough to make it a priority. It's your way of saying: this matters, and it's worth my time. When someone is absent, the whole team feels it. So drop the excuses, and do your best to show up. Trust me.
3. Aim for what matters most.
There are lots of people who have talent. It's not that hard to find them through social media these days. What sets some people apart, though, is their focus on a higher cause. They want their art to make a difference. They aim for what matters most.
When it comes to declaring what matters most, well that's always subjective. But you know it when you see it. I have to remind myself often, because some days will make you forget about what matters most.
Osa Obaseki is the Co-Director of The Collective and a hip-hop lyricist with experience in community organizing, youth mentorship, and music production.