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When you’re unhappy, you wonder: should you focus on improving your outlook or changing your situation?

Changing your outlook sounds easier and certainly less scary.  The positive thinkers will tell you to smile and the good feelings will find you.  Look for the silver lining.  It will all work out.

But after a while, positive thinking needs to lead to positive action.  It’s great to find a way to enjoy the job you’ve got in the short-term, but how do you know when to make the leap for the work you love?

Dave Hoskins may not have all the answers, but he has the experience.  He started playing guitar at age seven, but was convinced a career in music was too risky.   After twenty years of trying to “whistle while he worked” in other careers, he’s now got a great new band, named LYRE, and the confidence to let his heart sing.

We could all stand to take note.

Who are you listening to?

When the adults in Dave’s life discouraged him from pursuing a music career, he was devastated.  When his parents told him he couldn’t make a living playing in a band, he listened.

So what do you do when your dream career has been ripped apart?  You look for confirmation, wherever you can find it.

Dave told me

I started looking around for something art-related I could make a go at. I had an aunt who had complimented a few photos I’d taken while on vacation and that was validation I was sorely in need of.

That led to an interest in photojournalism, and then a job working at the local paper.  He rode that wave over the next ten years, until he was eventually freelancing for national and international newspapers, magazines and wire services.

Dave’s story sounds extraordinary, because he’s giving you all the background behind it.  But I find that for over-achievers, stories like his are all too common.  Dave is clearly talented, probably talented enough he could succeed by traditional standards at nearly anything.  But his need for approval meant he became an opportunist: someone who follows opportunities (or compliments) instead of creating them.

In fact, by the time he felt he’d plateaued with photography, he tried once more to make a go at music.  But the negative voices, now mostly in his head, wouldn’t shut up.  And it was still too painful to step beyond them, despite a decade of distance and maturity.

So he went into film instead.

I told Dave that his decisions about careers and risk sounded a bit strange.  From my perspective, music seems just as risky when compared to careers in photography and film.  He responded

The people I was looking to for approval didn’t see it that way.  I was so dependent on the approval of certain influential people that I made key life decisions based on it.

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer gives it prominence in his teachings saying, “You were brought up in various kinds of tribes and the mantra of the tribe is ‘What will they think?’ Leaving tribal thinking is key in manifesting the life you desire.”

After a stormy partnership in film, he finally had had enough.  He realized at this point in his life, he truly had nothing to lose by making the music he loved.

How to start your “singing career”

Dave’s music speaks to the self-examination (and doubt) that is so prevalent in career changers.  He expresses both the pain and the hope, the love and the loss.  As Dave says

If Coldplay, David Byrne & Dire Straits formed a supergroup and wrote songs about the themes taught by Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, or Jack Canfield it might sound like LYRE

These days, I’m incredibly selective about what I listen to.  As I’ve gotten older I’m more easily distracted, so there’s a big hurdle to make it onto my playlist.

I love the 80′s style sound of LYRE, and it’s tempting to just bounce around to the feel good rhythms.  But it also feels like this music was written especially for career changers.  Or life-grabbers.  And in a way, it was.

If you take him up on the offer to download their first single “Shining Through” for free, you’ll see what I mean.  The lyrics for “Shining Through” (maybe Everyday Bright’s new theme song?) begin

I hear a little voice inside of me/says that life is more than what I see/son, I think it’s time you go and turn it around

It’s funny.  On April Fool’s day, the world tries to play a trick on us.

The rest of the year, we trick ourselves into believing we can’t.  It’s too hard.  It’s not the right time.  We’re too old.

If you’re tired of listening to those voices in your head, try listening to the upbeat messages of LYRE instead.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it time runs out.”

The stage of life won’t wait for you to walk onto it.

So go ahead.  Be brave enough to give your heart the microphone.

Forget whistling while you work.  Sing.  Sing like you really mean it.

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12 Responses to Forget Whistling While You Work-Let Your Heart Sing

  1. Listening to the song right now – thank you for sharing it, Jen! Also, how cool is it that EB could have a THEME song?!

    • I know! I’m thinking of playing it when I do my first live event.

  2. Love the post & loving the song. My inner 80′s chick is doing a happy dance. :)

    Dave’s story sounds so familiar. For much of my career, my strategy was simple – follow the path of least resistance. Because I could do a number of things well, it was easy, but – in the end – I wound up wondering how the hell I’d gotten to where I was and – btw – where did I really want to be in the first place? Ouch.

    I’ve made a lot of progress since then, but there are still “miles to go before I sleep.” 2012 promises to be a year full of evolutionary steps for me. It takes so much courage and conviction to make that leap from whistling to singing, but as someone who overcame extreme stage fright and sang to live audience for the first time a couple of years ago, I can say without reservation that it feels wonderful to do your thing – fully and all the way. ;)

    TKS for another great post, Jen!

    • I hear you on the path of least resistance. Ironically, I was always a challenge seeker, but that simple yardstick didn’t always work out either. I’m a big fan of Occam’s Razor, but sometimes, decisions can’t be boiled down to a one variable equation (with good, reliable results anyway).

      But hey, getting over stage fright AND singing to a live audience? Now that’s singing like you really mean it. Way to go, you inspiring woman you!

  3. Hi Jen,

    Love this story and I think so many can relate to his journey. I tell you, I spent years plodding along because I was following a rule book or a guide book. I was always looking back and basing my steps on the way things were done, or simply looking for the approval of others. I had that negative voice for years. It took me a while to change and hey, I’m still a work-in-progress ;)

    “When the adults in Dave’s life discouraged him from pursuing a music career, he was devastated.”
    –People do that so well, don’t they?

    I do think so many get caught in the trap of trying to play a role, or please rather than creating opportunities and doing what they love.

    “The rest of the year, we trick ourselves into believing we can’t. It’s too hard. It’s not the right time. We’re too old.”
    –This happens so often, especially the “It’s not the right time” excuse. And you are Never too old! :)

    About the band. They do have a unique sound and I’ve never listened to a band with a new-agey, spiritual vibe like this one. Interesting.

    Nice sound. It actually reminds me of a band I liked way back when, “The Dream Syndicate” I thought of this song in particular, which I loved: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izyrfjhg4SE

    • Craig, thanks for bringing me to this post (and Jen’s blog in general, I already sent her Father post to some friends.)

      Tracks’ pretty catchy, lyrics do hit some ‘universal truths’, but then, I find universal truths in every pop song on the Billboard charts [grin].

      The guitar breakdown was nice and reminded me of Collective Soul or early Watchmen or Sponge :)

      In my experience, the world’s successful and achievers actively seek challenges. They use haters as a scorecard (and often money too :P) – this is one of the attitudes that set them apart from the masses.

      • On
      • April 7, 2012 at 6:46 am
      • Ralph
      • Said...

      Jen, hello!
      I come to you by way of Mr, McBreen too! J-Rize, where ya been? Hope things are well.

      It’s funny what you can get from music. When I was a younger lad I used to be a bit rabid over music but as of late I have fallen a bit off the track (no pun intended). Gotta get back to it.

      You friend Dave’s journey is a good lesson to us all in the need to seek the opportunity to do what we love and not waste anymore time listening so much to negative outside influence. It’s such a tricky prospect to find the “right” influence but likely so rewarding. The track is great. For me I can hear a bit of introspection in the music and that’s a good thing. There’s hope there.

      Thanks for bringing LYRE to me. I really appreciate that. Hope to hear more from you soon.

      • Haha, you know it Ralph, I’m all over the net :D I’ll be doing 4 posts for FirepoleMarketing.com for the next 4 fridays — keep your eyes peeled :)

        You may be interested to know I’m really not big on ‘seeking’ opportunity, I much prefer things to ‘seek’ me :P

  4. I don’t want to die with the music still in me. Great quote. Thanks so much.

  5. Hi Jen – Change your outlook or change your situation? good question. Hmm…mulling it over a bit..the people I work with come in, (many say) “not looking for a miracle.” Most come in wanting to feel better, to garner personal strength. And then the process of starting to look at their particular situation and deciding what they want to change and then what actually can be changed within their own personal comfort zone regarding finances, resources, etc. So I believe if you are able to recognize there is the tough emotional work to do, you can then do the situational work.

  6. Inspiring post, Jen. Reading about Dave’s journey makes me nervous about giving my own kids the wrong career advice! One way to prevent the “either-or” kind of limited thinking that Dave’s family resorted to is to regard careers in “slash” terms. I enjoyed Marci Alboher’s book One Person/Multiple Careers because it helped me envision scenarios in which I could be more than one thing and pursue multiple interests, in my case as a speechwriter/journalist/author. There’s a couple more slashes I’m hoping to add, including teacher and coach. The time I spend on each of these isn’t always equal, but it keeps them all in play – and moving back and forth on them keeps me from getting burned out any particular one. Over time, maybe one of them will bubble up as the dominant one, but I’m not rushing that.

    • On
    • April 13, 2012 at 2:02 am
    • Glori
    • Said...

    This sounds really inspirational.
    When I was young, I really thought I was going to be a rich nurse (LOL, a typical Filipino dream). I became a nurse and actually graduated with honors. But now, I realized, nursing may not be for me. I’m in that limbo where I kind of don’t know what do with my life. I do know I enjoy writing, but instead of negative voices in my head, I, myself, think I’m not going to succeed. Being a freelancer writer or an author (aspiring) is not something that is usually done in family.

    I’m hopeful and still introspecting. thank you for this!