Tag Archives: Steven Pressfield

A Different Take on Fergie’s NBA All-Star National Anthem Performance

beauty-trends-blogs-daily-beauty-reporter-2015-01-15-fergie-allure-february-2015-cover“…It’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.” ~ Steven Pressfield author from The War of Art.

So it’s safe to say that Fergie took a few kicks to the ribs after her recent NBA All-Star Game national anthem performance, mostly via social media. But at least she’s in the arena…not in the stands where the social media vultures live. In the aforementioned book The War of Art, Pressfield goes on to say:

“A professional schools herself to stand apart from her performance, even as she gives herself to it heart and soul…The professional loves her work. She is invested in it wholeheartedly. But she does not forget that the work is not her. Her artistic self contains many works and many performances. Already the next is percolating inside her. The next one will be better, and the one after that better still…

The professional self-validates. She is tough-minded. In the face of indifference or adulation, she assesses her stuff coldly and objectively. Where it fell short, she’ll improve it. Where it triumphed, she’ll make it better still. She’ll work harder. She’ll be back tomorrow.”

There’s a saying that it’s better for an artist to “step over the line” from time to time than to always play it safe…and live life never knowing where that line is. Artists are by the nature of their work risk takers. It’s one of the 9 lessons of music education that translate into success that I’ve articulated in my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music – Lesson #6 – Risk Acceptance (Let’s Just “Jam”).

While I found Fergie’s performance unusual, I’m struck by that fact that 99% of the critics tearing her to shreds are people sitting on their couches, staring into their smartphones, and avoiding pursuing whatever endeavor is near and dear to their hearts out of laziness, insecurity, or fear of rejection.

I’m guessing Fergie will be “back in the arena” tomorrow so to speak, honing her craft and working on her next musical or other creative project. You can sit on the sidelines or in the parking lot waiting for the next artist to slip up so that you can throw daggers, or you can get to work and join her.




Solitude, Music, Steven Pressfield, & Creativity

One reason that I believe music education is such a powerful formative activity is the diversity of that experience. From the solitude of practicing scales and the fundamentals of your instrument to the excitement of performing in front of a live audience with a combo, band, or orchestra, the music student experiences extremes that provide a well-rounded foundation that can facilitate success in so many endeavors.

In this article by Leo Babauta entitled “The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People,” he identifies solitude, or the ability to clear your mind, reflect, and meditate alone as a key to creativity. He provides thoughts and testimonials from highly creative minds (Article link).

The concept that creativity strikes like lightning is the exception. Creative people generally hone their skills by dedicating time to their craft, and those with the discipline to do so are generally more creative.

In the book The War of Art: Break Through the Block and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, author Steven Pressfield echoes those sentiments. In this passage, Pressfield quotes English dramatist and novelist W. Somerset Maugham. When asked if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration, Maugham responded, “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

Similarly, Pressfield himself states, “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing that’s the hard part. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”

You can read Pressfield’s extended thoughts on this topic at his website and his May 26, 2010 blog post entitled “Do It Anyway.”

Want to write the next great pop song, symphony, novel, or screenplay? Put away the iPhone, turn off the TV, find a setting that stimulates your muse, lock out the noise, and get started!