What if it doesn’t work? Risk Taking and Your Career

Not too long ago I went to check out a classical guitar built by Jean Larrivee, a builder know for his steel strings, but who started out building classical guitars under the guidance of a master classical builder. I took a steel string workhorse with me as a possible trade toward the instrument with the plan of selling my Gretsch Anniversary Model to help allay the financial burden. Yes, I’m thinning the herd to make room for something that falls into alignment with my musical goals and long-term direction. My train of thought, of course, was that if the instrument didn’t meet my expectations and requirements, it would not be purchased, but the intent was present and I fully expected that if it didn’t happen that day, it would in the imminent future.

I’m excited about moving forward, but nervous as well. Career decisions are always things that involve mixed emotions and I have been down this road before, sometimes with an aftermath of regret. But here I am, having passed my half century mark two years ago and looking toward both my immediate and long term futures, I can neither imagine myself at 70 doing what I’ve been doing for the past twenty years, nor can I imagine not being an active musician. I’m in this for the long haul and after already investing over forty years in it I cannot conceive of not doing it.

Everything we do in life that has some form of meaning to us involves taking risks, and hoping for a positive outcome. Whether it’s walking out on the stage for the first time, adopting a pet, or more significantly committing to our spouse and having children, life is full of risks. If we do not take these risks then we are not truly living our lives. We, instead, content ourselves with the status quo and insulate ourselves from challenges, never venturing outside of our comfort zones to find who we are capable of being, or what we are capable of accomplishing. I want to continue to grow as a person and human being as I age, and for me the best routes are through music and writing.

The Larrivee is currently residing at my home and the Takamine EAN40C is living with someone else. The Gretsch is going up for sale; I just haven’t posted the ad yet. My new guitar is an L-35 which has a really sweet voice and a nice balance across the strings. It breathes in ways that my other nylon strings don’t and has a much more expressive palette. I’m happy with it and am looking forward to enjoying a long and lasting relationship with the instrument as well as the music that issues forth from it.

Don’t be too afraid to take chances, just try to take the most educated risks you can. Yes, it can be a bit unnerving at times and there is always the chance that you won’t end up succeeding, but the upside is that we often learn as much from failing in our attempts as we do from succeeding. It helps prepare us for the next leap of faith, and if we succeed we reap those benefits as well before finding the next point to leap from. Often it is in the leaping that we learn that we are actually living.


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