The Inflection Point: How Any Musician Can Create a Career They Love

Inflection PointThe first time that I cried in a lesson was probably one of the most important days of my life.

Sometime during my junior year of music school, I started getting the feeling that I wasn’t quite cut out for the career path that I had been pursuing.

At the time, I was a performance major but there was never a time in my life where I actually decided “I want to be an orchestral musician”.

It just kind of happened.

I loved playing horn in high school and it was the only thing that I was good at.

Like a lot of musicians I know, I had never quite fit in with my peer group growing up.

But the second I got involved in music, that all changed.

I had finally found a place that I felt that I belonged.

After high school it seemed like going into music was the obvious choice.

I was a pretty horrendous student but I could play the horn pretty well and, even though my grades had been terrible since elementary school, I had gotten a great scholarship to most of the schools I applied to.

So anyways, back to that fateful lesson where I balled my eyes out…

I had been preparing for my senior recital and one day just kind of realized that I had actually been pretty miserable for the last couple of years while in music school.

Something about that particular lesson just set me off and I couldn’t take it anymore.

I had to get out my frustration.

For the first time ever, I had to admit to my teacher (and myself) that I wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t quite articulate why.

(Denise, if you’re reading this, thanks for handling that so well and telling me it was totally okay.  Young Seth needed that more that you know.)

Honestly, there probably wasn’t one specific reason, but I think this is something that almost everyone faces at some point in their careers.

It’s a seriously scary thing when you realize that you’ve been putting all of your eggs into one basket only to discover that maybe it wasn’t the right path for you.

But here’s the thing, almost nobody wants to admit when this happens and they definitely don’t want to talk about it.

I felt really alienated for the remainder of my time in music school because of this and I wish I had had the balls to discuss it openly sooner.

So how do you deal with this?

There’s no simple answer, but one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Gary Vaynerchuk, calls this The Inflection Point.

His question to people is:

What’s the thing that you can do the best that you also love the most?

This is a damn good question that I think everyone who isn’t sure what to do with their lives should consider.

The reality is that most people that go into the world of music aren’t going to be pop stars, playing in a major symphony orchestra, composing soundtracks to summer blockbuster movies, or whatever.

Some do, and that’s amazing for them.

It’s certainly not the case for everyone.

This doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.

I repeat, this doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.

Maybe you love playing jazz guitar and also happens to love writing.

There’s a job out there where you could write, edit, or what have you, for a jazz magazine and that would still allow you to gig on the weekends.

Perhaps you’re an opera singer that is great at math.

Every opera company on the planet needs great finance people that understand the artform.

Personally, I discovered that I love learning about business, entrepreneurship, psychology, and I work for myself as a digital marketing consultant.

I still get to play, teach, and do everything that other musicians do.

While I’m a pretty young dude, I’ve had the great pleasure of working in a lot of different areas of the music business and I can tell you that the industry as a whole desperately needs people that understand the arts but can also bring other skills to the table.

It might not be the “perfect” fit (even though I don’t think that exists), but if you look for the place where you can combine what you love with what you’re great at, then you’ll be well on your way to creating a career that makes YOU happy.

The day that I cried in a lesson was the start of a big turning point in my life and while I don’t wish anyone to cry in a lesson, I do hope that if you’ve been struggling to find your path that this helps.

Click this video below to hear Gary Vaynerchuk talk about this more eloquently than I could ever hope to.