Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Rush, Coolidge, and Persistence

My wife loves me.

See, this year for Christmas she got me the DVD of "Rush in Rio". It's a concert DVD of the band, Rush, that I grew up with. The first song I ever learned to play on the electric bass was "Bastille Day". I can still remember my friend showing me those riffs on a winter afternoon in my Sophmore year of high school. Boy that dates me.

But I digress.

As I got to thinking about the band and their history, it occurred to me just how hard they've worked over the years, and the position they've earned. They’ve been together as a recording band, now, for over twenty years, with almost as many albums done. But then, it hasn’t always been easy for them, either. It took them half that time to get their first ever radio hit. Their enthusiastic fanbase came from their constant touring.

So, I’m looking at this history of theirs, and I’m realizing that they did it “their way”, so to speak. They were never the darlings of the music press, or the airwaves. They didn’t do fluffy little pop tunes that teen-y boppers would love. They never had an appearance on “The Today Show”, nor have they ever won a Grammy. They’ve never done any of those things that musical stars are supposed to do to get rich and famous. There was also one thing they never did, either, and that was the key to their success.

They never stopped.

Twenty-plus years later, they’re still going strong

OK, now flash back with me years ago, when I was in college, playing in the jazz/pep band. The director was an interesting character, and he taught me something very important. He said, “90% of life is: Showing Up”. And it’s true. Being there when you’re supposed to be every time will get you farther in the long run that talent and skills.

This famous quote is attributed to Calvin Coolidge makes the point: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

Because knowledge, skills, and education are intangibles. They’re meaningless until you do something with them. And you need to keep on doing things with them over and over and over again. Because that’s how those things all get better. More knowledge, more skills, more education. Couple those with action and you get experience.

Let’s face it. No one is BORN knowing anything. Sure, we may find we have a knack for certain things, but we all start out with nothing. So the argument that someone else has the jump on you, has more talent, skills, etc... is moot. They started from nothing, too.

And while I’m talking about competition, let me point out something else I learned while being a musician. Most of your competition will go away. They’ll get tired of the fight, they’ll run out of money, they’ll run out of time, they’ll run out of excuses. The best way to defeat your competition is to outlast them. You don’t have to run faster than they do, you just have to keep going. Tortoise v Hare, remember? Who won? Why?

And Rush, now, without the massive radio play or the hype that surrounds stars like Madonna or Michael Jackson, consistently sell out arenas when they tour. 20, 40, even 60,000 seat venues. They have a loyal, active fan base that buys their CD’s in droves.

Simply because they never went away.

No comments:

Post a Comment