Sunday, March 23, 2014

Talent is Overrated

I've talked about talent many times in my blogs for Christian creatives, and recently have begun reading a fascinating book called “Talent is Overrated” by author Geoffrey Colvin.

The reason this book speaks to me, and I think might be interesting to you, is that the author posits that talent is perhaps not born already to go as we may have thought. For years, we have thought that the reason there were “talented geniuses” in music, sports, or business is that they must have been born that way; that they were more predestined by God than others to get “the gift”.

“The natural-gift explanation also explains why extraordinary performers are so rare; God-given talents are presumably not handed out willy-nilly. This explanation has the additional advantage of helping most of us come to somewhat melancholy terms with our own performance. A God-given gift is a one-in-a-million thing. You have it or you don’t. If you don’t—and of course most of us don’t—then it follows that you should just forget now about ever coming close to greatness.” – Geoffrey Colvin

And this is what we do. We assume that God in His infinite wisdom chose our music minister, or Michael W. Smith, or Mozart for greatness or at least a much higher level of creativity than us. We figure we just didn't get God’s blessing.

Talent and creativity is often snuffed out early in our lives by well-meaning teachers and parents bent on making sure we “do what we are best at.” They mainly mean, “quit fooling around and do your math homework so you can go to college!”

“I think children have talent and insight, but it gets beaten out of them.” - Rita Dove

And it only gets worse as we get older.

“In business we constantly see managers redirect people’s careers based on slender evidence of what they've “got.” Most insidiously, in our own lives, we will try something new and, finding that it isn't easy for us, conclude that we have no talent for it, and so we never pursue it.” – Geoffrey Colvin

Sound familiar? Ever just decided you must not be meant to do something because it wasn't easy or someone told you that you weren't any good at it? I meet new clients and creative folks every day who come to us for a new start in music ministry who feel they were beaten down early and quit. But God keeps working on them, and they try again.

In the book, Colvin looks into two examples everyone loves to run to when talking about “God-given talent”: Mozart and Tiger Woods. This is especially interesting to me since I am a huge fan of both. Mozart is my favorite composer, and I only watch golf if Tiger is in the hunt.

I have played pieces that Mozart wrote as a child (in fact, they are about all I can play by reading. Deepest regrets to my piano-teaching mother who gave it her best shot.) They are very sweet and beautiful pieces. But as Colvin posits and I can verify through my recent music history studies, these pieces were probably cleaned up and edited pretty good by a very musically talented father. In his early teens, Mozart studied with J.C. Bach (one of Johann Sebastian’s boys) and while nice, his compositions of this time certainly hearkened to his teacher’s style.

“Mozart’s first work regarded today as a masterpiece, with its status confirmed by the number of recordings available, is his Piano Concerto No. 9, composed when he was twenty-one. That’s certainly an early age, but we must remember that by then Wolfgang had been through eighteen years of extremely hard, expert training.” – Geoffrey Colvin

Tiger is actually a similar story. His dad was a scratch golfer with a single digit handicap before Tiger was born. From the time Tiger was a baby, he was around golf and getting a club put in his hand. Did he have natural talent? Or was it instilled and ingrained in him by a golf-focused father who recognized his son as smart and athletic? Even Tiger took a while to get to national prominence.

“Let’s call it age nineteen, when he was a member of the U.S. team in Walker Cup play (though he did not win his match). At that point he had been practicing golf with tremendous intensity, first under his father and after age four under professional teachers, for seventeen years.” – Geoffrey Colvin

So you see, yes Mozart and Tiger are great examples of talent, but it did not come without hard work.

“My God given talent is my ability to stick with training longer than anybody else.” - Herschel Walker

So this week, examine if you may have dropped your creative goals because you felt you weren't talented enough for them. Maybe it’s time to get back to work!

“Talent alone won't make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: Are you ready?” - Johnny Carson

Have a great week!

EC
--
Eric Copeland has been deliberately practicing his creative goals for 50 years, including today. How about you? Are you ready? Check out Creative Soul, a creative Christian service company that can help you get back to it today. http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com


I’m really enjoying the book “Talent is Overrated” by Geoffrey Colvin and recommend you do too. To read an excerpt and buy it now, check it out at iTunes or Amazon.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

You Were Created to Serve

“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26

I think all of us who are creative and trying to use our talents feel that God gave them to us for a reason. We feel they need to be used and nurtured, as well as shown off to the world. But that’s where thing get wonky.

When we show off our artistry, we can get all sideways with things. Suddenly we get concerned with odd things like what people will think, whether we are amazing, and even how we’ll make money at it. These things start to really affect how and sometimes even if we will continue to pursue our art.

I've even heard artists say or intimate that if no one is buying it, and there’s not money to be made here, then why pursue art at all?

If we can’t absolutely be the best at our chosen art form, what’s the freaking point?

But there’s a simple answer to these concerns.

“The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.” - Albert Einstein

Like most of you, as a young songwriter and musician, I struggled to be as awesome as I thought I could be. I made my music and showed it off. I attempted to be seen and heard. I would dream, start projects, and often never finish them as I figured who would listen besides me anyway.

On the side, ever since my teens, I had helped friends and family make recordings after they found out I did that. Through the years, I figured out how to monetize that after apprenticing under another producer who worked with music ministries that needed recording. As the years went by, something miraculous happened: I realized that by serving others I could realize all the dreams I had about my creativity. It just hit me last week in a conversation with a client that this may in fact be the answer we’ve all been searching for.

The Serve is the Thing

We tend to think we are doing this to make CDs, show off our art, provide entertainment, or provide for our families, but where we should be focusing on is how we can best serve with our talents.

Once I shifted from personal brands like “Eric Copeland Music” to service brands like “Creative Soul”, suddenly my work had more meaning and worth than just for my personal uses. Once my focus was less on me and more on the people my music would serve, everything came into place. God started blessing what I was doing ten times more than when I was just doing it for my one-dimensional self-serving motives.

Now, I’m not saying that if you are doing your own music you aren't serving others, but when you focus less on the art itself and more on what the art can DO, then the world really opens up.

So often, recording artists make music without having any idea what will happen when they have CDs in their hands. There’s no focus on how to get in front of people, what to say to them, or even who those people need to be. Why? Because we haven’t figured out the audience we want to serve.

Now of course we’re serving God, but our service to Him is based in how we serve others for Him. That goes beyond just a stock answer of saying we want to serve God with the music or art we make.

How specifically can your art serve others? Is there a group or segment of the church that will really get served by you? Is there a unique way you will present your art that goes beyond the art to service? What stories from your personal experience do you have to tell? You have ideas, words, and real life experiences that others can relate to when they hear them through your testimony and songs.

This solves a variety of ills we have with what we are doing ministry-wise. It lets us be more than artists, songwriters, or speakers. Real serving with our gifts lets us make a difference that is above money, power, fame, or even talent.

"Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.” - Thomas Kinkade

Have a great week!

EC
--
Eric Copeland is lead producer and president of Creative Soul, not so much a record label as a Christian music service company. We care for, speak to, counsel, produce, and assist Christian music ministries to make amazing music, then get out there and affect real change on the world. Can we help you? http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Value of the Valley

Creative highs and lows are what we call "An Occupational Hazard".

There's nothing like that awesome feeling where everyone gets what you are doing, and people are lining up to tell you how much you blessed them. You feel like you are making a difference in people's lives, and you see real results. You actually see God working right before your eyes.

But then, one day, the phone stops ringing. The church folk just seem a little distant. The songs just are not coming, and you wonder if you will ever write again. Life steps in with personal things you simply must deal with and you must put family issues on the front burner. Someone gives you a very negative review, one that hurts. You pray to God to give you strength, but truly feel like maybe He wants you to quit all this creative nonsense and go sell shoes.

"And then...depression set in"
- Bill Murray (Stripes)

Welcome to the valley, folks.

Monday, January 27, 2014

This Post is Awesome!

We have met with many artists, writers, and creatives through the years, and one of the first things they want to know is if they have the potential to be awesome. Now most also have a goal of ministering as part of their equation, but they also wonder how good they can be. Can they do this? Are they “good” when they sing, or write? Do they have the potential to be great?

Most people who encounter Creative Soul (including longtime readers of this and our other blogs) find out quickly and/or already know that we are not here to be star-makers. Our goal has always been to be of service to music ministries, and we kind of think it just so happens to be the very way people GET awesome.

You see, becoming awesome is not really as much about talent as you think (see more on this here). It’s much more of a state of mind. It’s how artists who matter, came to be a success in the first place. And that success is more about the way they do things than it is their enormous, shiny talent.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This is the Year

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens.” - Ecclesiastes 3:1

This is the time you have waited for.

For years you have sat on the sidelines, knowing full well that God has given you all the tools you need to get out and use your talents for Him. You have watched “reality shows” like The Voice, American Idol, and others and rolled your eyes at the silliness. But secretly, you were a tad jealous those people are at least following their dreams, and actually doing something about it!

You've been asked repeatedly if you have a CD, or if you are singing anywhere, or dancing, acting, etc. right now. You grin and sheepishly shrug, as if you have no idea what to say. And maybe you don’t. You've felt ill-prepared to take the next step, mainly because there’s no one to work with locally. Maybe you have even tried or talked to some folks, or worse been burned by someone you thought could help.

Or maybe you've shown your art off before, and pursued this once to limited success. And now, you don’t even want to show that CD or old art off anymore. It’s not you, maybe you just feel it’s outdated or wasn't really done with the quality you wanted.

But this year, instead of lamenting over past failures or going nowhere, how about taking some steps to getting going with your own art and ministry.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Breaking Away from Mediocrity

"These are mediocre times, Mrs. Dunn. People are starting to lose hope. It's hard for many to believe there are extraordinary things inside themselves as well as others.” – Quote from the movie, “Unbreakable”.

I see and hear lots of artists, songwriters, and creative people every week. You would imagine I’d run into really amazing talent, and also really bad. The truth is the majority is just mediocre. Back home these people are thought of as exemplary, probably because they have the courage to try anything at all. They stand out because they stand up. But real excellence is more than just having some talent in the midst of no talent.

Monday, November 04, 2013

When Good Enough Isn't Enough Anymore

Ever feel like you've settled into a place so long, where everyone thinks you’re awesome, and things have been going well a long time? Everyone is happy. Good work is being done, and even though you could do more (like your real heart’s desire), you stay right where you are like a good little soldier.

Or maybe you have just found yourself as the top dog in your little creative world. By either hard work, or maybe default, you have found yourself in a place where you are the king of all you survey creatively. People come to YOU with their problems, questions, and creative desires.

You are good, and I mean pretty darn skippy. You know it, your pastor knows it, and darn it, people like you!

But one day you wake up and realize, is this all there is for me? Is this IT? Am I at the top of what I can do? Or worse, you go see a concert, attend a convention, or go to some creative mecca where everything is just on a higher realm of quality than where you, and you come back to your little domain an look at things differently.

Are you all you can be?

About the Author

My Photo
Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more us at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com