I am a grass is always greener person. It’s not a trait that I am happy with, and I’ve constantly strived to get rid of that type of idealism. And yet, I can’t help feeling that there is a positive aspect of having that type of outlook. Let me explain.
I once saw a clinic with Steve Gadd. Before he spoke he sat down and played ‘Bye, Bye, Blackbird’. Everyone, of course, was floored at his performance. He grabbed the microphone and said he had just played everything he knew in that song. He then went on to say that if he had members of the audience came up to play for him, he would learn, and want to learn, something from each person that played. And that is where my ‘envy vs. motivation’ perspective rears it’s head.
You see, Steve was right. There is always more to learn. In my position as a professional drummer I am always looking to learn more, play more, BE more. When I see a drummer doing something that I have not done, cannot do or would like to do, it creates this innate sense of envy. It’s a feeling I get in the pit of my stomach that says ‘Why isn’t that me?’ I hate this feeling, I hate feeling a self-centered or holier than thou attitude like that. Envy is one of the deadly sins (labelled DEADLY for a reason).
And yet every time it happens, I have realized that there is one outcome that consistently happens. I work harder. If it’s a technique that I don’t know, I will sit down and try to learn it, or at the very lest go and practice all day. If it’s a style I don’t know, I will find a book on how to learn it. If it’s a drummer, or just a musician in general, landing a gig for a band I would love to be in, I find that I work harder on looking for ‘The Big Gig’.
And so I find that there is a direct correlation (at least for me) between envy and motivation. I want to clarify that I am grateful for all that I have in my life. My recent change in profession has solidified my ‘dream’ of being professional musician into a reality. I gig regularly, I teach regularly, and long gone are the days when my response to the questions “Are you a good drummer?” was answered by “I guess”.
I also know that I can learn those techniques and styles by being a dedicated musician. As for ‘The Big Gig’ if it’s meant to be, then it will be. Opportunity is luck + preparation, and I believe I have both. As for being envious of others, I know that as long as I am aware of how blessed my life is, it might not be so bad to have the success of others motivate me to push harder.