Author: Campbell, Bruce

Grin and Fake It

Some notable wit said that 90% of life is just showing up. That may be true, but a good 75% is also faking it. Itís how successful people get from point A to point B. Itís deep at the root of confidence, and I think it stokes the fires of creativity.

When I was a kid, I was always impressed how grownups seem to know just what to do, whether it was at their grownup jobs, or taking care of the home and kids. I longed for the day when I, too would have that cool calm. ďWhat serenity there must be, in always knowing what youíre doing!Ē, I thought.

I never seemed to know just what Iím doing. I mean, I knew what I knew, but life never seemed to demand of me the things I already knew Ė it always wanted what I didnít quite know. When I got my first real job (with a paycheck), I got it as a result of faking it, a little.

ďCan you drive a stick?Ē, they asked.

ďSure!Ē, I replied, even though my only experience with driving a stick was doing some laps around a parking lot in my uncleís big pickup with a three-on-the-tree. Fortunately, I was able to get the delivery van out of the driveway, and did my learning (stalling, gear grinding, etc.) out on the road.

As I became an adult, I realized that the conditions that drove me crazy as a kid still exist for adults. Yes, you have a wider range of experience and knowledge to draw upon, but youíre still constantly faced with situations that demand you know things you really donít. So, you fake it. You hope for the best, make some guesses and plow ahead. And oddly enough, MOST of the time it works out! And when it doesnít, you make note of what youíve learned, and have something (wisdom?) to use if the same situation presents itself again.

The same thing applies in music. We struggle to learn our instruments and learn the songs and learn the notes, but once youíre confronted with live playing, thereís always a twist or turn you didnít expect. You are faced with a choice: Either deal with it and soldier through (fake it), or shut down and cease playing until a song comes a long that you do know, note for note. Which would you rather do?

Itís a similar situation when you find yourself in a jam with players whose abilities far exceed yours. Youíre way outside your comfort zone. Do you hang in there, and give it a try? Sometimes you really canít keep up, but more often than not, youíre able to conjure a few disconnected seconds of musical brilliance, and over time, those disconnected instances where you played ahead of your assumed abilities actually raises your comfort zone to a new level!

So, if you didnít know already, Iím here to tell you: NONE of us really knows what weíre doing. The difference between being a happy success and a miserable failure is really just the ability and confidence to grin and fake it!

Posted:  2/1/2012

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