What's up ya'll? Dan Sugarman here - speaking on behalf of Dan Sugarman ...what?
It's been a few weeks since my previous column, Removing the Veil: Life on the Road, came out, and I'd like to start off today's piece by thanking everyone for all of the awesome feedback I've been receiving. Many of the emails were from empathetic people who had no idea how hard life on the road really was, others from fellow musicians thanking me for exposing the ugly truth and shedding light on the reality of the tour life, and the rest were just friendly messages ranging from gear discussions, lesson inquiries, all the way to discussing the best way shower without the luxury of actually using a shower. Thank you guys for taking the time to reach out to me, I really do appreciate it.
I'd also like to extend my offer to you once again, as lines will be open perpetually. Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org if it tickles your fancy.
Alright, enough of that. Let me bring you up to date and give a brief recap on what I've been up to lately. As I type this, I am sitting in our green room at an awesome venue in Köln, Germany. I am on the Never Say Die! Tour in Europe with some incredible bands, and some of my favorite band folks in the world. I can't thank Imperial Clothing enough for putting on such an amazing tour and couldn't be any happier with how the shows have been going so far. For those of you who don't know, Europeans -- as far as I can tell -- have an almost inhuman level of admiration and respect for music that is unseen in America. That isn't to say that American fans aren't incredible (because they are), but what I'm really trying to say is that Europeans are fucking nuts. There it is. Print that.
It is only day 3 of the tour and I can tell already that this is going to quite possibly be the best one that we have ever done. I think I say that every time we tour, which is probably a good thing (my apologies if that line is repeated throughout our relationship here at Guitar World). And lucky for me - there are several amazing guitarists on this tour that are getting their brains picked daily by me... hopefully they can handle the ridiculous questions and uncomfortable level of curiosity that I have.
Before our current tour, we had a few weeks off to recharge from The Summer Slaughter Tour. I am definitely stoked to be back out on the road again. There is something to be said about going from the extreme highs of touring/playing amazing shows every night, and then going to the extreme lows/boredom of the home life. After awhile it can really take a toll on you physically and psychologically.
To say that this particular column is influenced by personal events that I am going through at the moment would be an understatement. All of the concepts and ideas I discuss here are applicable in all aspects of life - If you so choose to use them that way. They are also meant for anyone who is struggling to overcome the obstacles that lie ahead in the road to becoming a better musician/person. Believe me, I know how disheartening it can be at times. Especially when you feel like you've plateaued with your playing, or even in your life.
Today, we will focus on acknowledging how truly powerful the mind is in determining your reality.
Learning how to use the mind as a weapon is one of the greatest tools that one could attain. You already possess the gun, but you must seek out the best ammo for that gun, and then train yourself how to aim and fire. The mind also works like a muscle: If you're a body builder, athlete, or just simply into health & fitness, then you know that once you've acquired the desired level of muscle, stamina, etc., you are not even close to finishing what you've started. In fact, you are never done. Unless of course, you give up -- and no one likes a quitter.
To maintain that amount of muscle, stamina, etc. that you've acquired, you must continue putting in an equal amount of work as you did in the beginning. You must also sustain the same level of dedication, motivation & drive that you had when you first started. You must keep that fire inside of you stoked & burning red hot. If you can't rekindle the flame, then all of the growth and progress that you've worked for will slowly disappear.
All analogies aside, my point is this: The brain can either be trained to be your friend or your enemy. The choice is yours, and the conditioning of your mind is never ending. It must be a constant in your life. Here is why.
The mindset that you have when approaching any given situation will greatly affect your outcome. The achievements or failures that you walk away with in the end are dependent on that fact and are clearly depicted in what makes you, you. It is important to put all that you have into staying positive and empowered. It's so easy to be sucked into negative ways of thinking. At times it seems as if humans have a natural attraction to that darkness for some unexplained reason. Picture a black hole that devours all light that it comes into contact with. That black hole is your pessimistic thinking - the dark corners of your mind - while the light represents all of the positive energy that you possess. Sadly, this is something which we've all subconsciously signed up for and agreed to when our lives began. You must put all of your efforts into resisting that, at all costs. If you are going up against a challenge, then you must meet it face to face with more intensity, passion, preparedness & confidence than that challenge has brought to you. Again, you must stay positive and empowered - no matter what. I'm not saying don't be realistic. There will be times in your life when battles are lost, and with that comes great learning experience. My point is that you shouldn't be a pessimist without reason or cause. It is better to be wrong and empowered than it is to be right and disempowered.
For instance, my band has been dragged through the mud, bruised, beaten and scarred, yet we choose to continue doing this because we love it. At the end of the day, it may not be the best decision we could have made, or even most fruitful thing that we could do with our lives, but it is something that we have dedicated ourselves to. There is something inside of us that truly believes this is what we're meant for. And so our actions will be in line with that belief.
The uphill battle that we face every day means nothing to me anymore. Why? Because I know we will persevere and prevail. I have already made that decision and because of the choice that I've made, all of my actions are in line with that decision. Make sense now?
I have committed myself to transcending negativity and viewing all of my problems from a place where I cannot be touched or affected by them. That way, I can disconnect myself from the crisis at hand and see my problems from a birds-eye-view, thus, keeping the bigger picture in mind at all times.
What does it mean to get "The Big Picture"? To me, it means having the ability to step away from any given situation and recognize/identify with how your actions, reactions, and inactions will effect you, as well as all of those involved. It means that you not only see the immediate effects, but that you also see the resounding and long-term affects. If you lose sight of what you're after in life, then all is lost. Your passion and purpose -- gone. You must stay connected with who you are, and who you want to become. You do this by making sure that every decision you make in your life is in line with your goals. That is what the big picture means to me.
Beyond the scope of understanding "The Big Picture", it is also important to recognize that the way you view yourself and the world around you is greatly influenced by who you are on the inside.
Imagine that you are always wearing a pair of glasses that determine how you perceive the things around you. In fact, everybody is wearing those same glasses - but with their own custom lens prescription. This basic idea explains why two people can go through the same exact situation, yet they will walk away with two different opinions, lessons learned, and tell completely different stories of what took place. Once you realize that you are the creator of your world, you will then have the ability to control the lenses that you view your world through. Without a doubt, that is when things will start looking up for you. You will soon view the world around you in different, more positive way. You will look for ways to overcome obstacles that stand in your way rather then finding ways to hide from them. You will look at life through the lens of solutions, rather than the lens of problems. The difference between successful and unsuccessful people can usually be rooted in that simple fact right there.
Successful people focus on how to win, while unsuccessful people focus on how not to lose. Successful people focus on what they want and what they want to happen, whereas unsuccessful people focus on fear, and what they don't want to happen. All of their actions & inactions will be in line with their internal beliefs. You see, success is simply the ability to solve problems on a consistent basis. How is that done you might be asking? By staying positive, optimistic, and empowered AT ALL TIMES. Although many people believe that the life they're living has been predetermined by some all-mighty being in the sky, or maybe by their "fate" or "destiny" -- I on the other hand, believe total the opposite. You are in complete control of your life. You are the allmighty being.
Your present position in life is the sum of everything that you have ever done, thought, believed, or said. Things don't just happen without a cause. Those thoughts and beliefs are the root of everything that you have ever done or said. Every decision and word that has ever come out of your mouth will affect your reality in one way or another. An old teacher of mine named Tom Hess once said to me, "The world outside of yourself is created from the world within." That definitely resonated with me, and to this very day I live my life by that statement. Your world (reality) is filled with the results of all of your actions and inactions of your past all the way up until this exact moment -- and it goes on endlessly.
You really must stay on top this mental "training" if you want to control your actions. That's if you want to maintain what you've worked so hard to achieve. For instance, if you consider yourself to be a kind person but don't practice kindness day to day to all walks of life, then you will lose control over who you think you are and who want to be. You see, no one really cares about who, or what you THINK you are. If they don't see it, then it isn't there. What really matters is what THEY perceive, and that is the realm of reality you will exist within. Perception is reality. More on this at another time though. I feel that if I add any more to this already extensive discussion that some of it would be lost in translation due to mental indigestion.
To sum up this column in one phrase: Although life created you, it is you who is the creator of your life. Remember that.
Also remember to stay hungry. The second that you become "full" is the second that you stop eating (seeking out information and knowledge that helps support growth and progression). Also recognize that the information given here is useless...but the application & implementation of this information is everything. That is what will give you the results that you're looking for. Don't forget that. "To know, but not to do, is not to know".
I have attached two useful items to this column that I would like you to print out (including this column itself), if any part of what I said today has resonated with you. Keep these somewhere safe and within arms reach so that you can remind yourself of the things mentioned here with ease. I understand that some of you have already discovered much of this on your own, but I really do hope that these insights and ideas find you at a good time in your life.
Until next time, this is Dan Sugarman here ...signing out. You stay classy - planet earth.
- The Declaration of Dedication: Music & Life -
Life is a road without an end, a Mountain without a peak.
Progress can & will be slowed by steep and challenging inclines in your Climb to the Top, yet it is always forward moving.
In your Ascension, you will come across sections of the Climb that are easily Overcome, as well as plateaus that seem never ending.
Dedication, a high level of Focus & Awareness, Determination, Courage to Fail and Try again, and an Unquenchable thirst for more are the key to Overcoming said obstacles.
Climb that Mountain bit by bit every day and you will see massive Progress by allowing yourself to zoom out and bring the Bigger Picture into view. With your new found scope of Reality, you can now see how irrelevant Time really is. It is all just a matter of how you Perceive it.
Look down below and see where you came from. Acknowledge & Appreciate how far you've come and the Path that you've Chosen to be here today. Your current position is the sum of every Decision that you've ever made in your Life. Be proud of who you are and what you've experienced... but do not be complacent -- for contentment is the death of progression.
Now look up ahead to see where you are going - knowing that there are hidden obstacles around every corner with no end in sight. Stay True to your heading and most of all, Stay True to yourself.
You must Push on.
Come out on Top - Knowing that it is YOU who fuels the fire.
Greatness is Achievable, You just need to make the Decisions & Sacrifices necessary to obtain it.
Do not Stray from your Path.
Commit & Conquer
I, ___________, dedicate and commit myself to all of the above, and will thoroughly enjoy the lifelong journey that lies ahead of me.
(PRINT THIS ON THE BACK OF YOUR DECLARATION TO DEDICATION)
Although Life Created You, it is you who is the Creator of Your Life.
To know, but not to do - is Not to know.
You are accountable for all of your Actions & Inactions. Every single one of those Actions & Inactions have influenced and shaped your Life to this very moment in time. Embrace this, and live your Life knowing that it is you who fuels the fire. You are the Master, the Author, and the Key Holder. You forged the locks in the fire, yet you also possess the key to unlock it. Open the door of your choice & choose your Future.
The World outside of yourself is Created from the World within.
Do not lose sight of your Goals - Keep your eye on the Prize.
Stay Hungry - Contentment is the Death of Progression.
Nothing can pull you off of your Path.
Let no one hinder your Progress or jeopardize your Goals in Life.