I grew up in the 60’s.
Among other things that means I’m a rock and roller. So when a new rock and roll documentary called “20 Feet From Stardom” opened, I was on it. “20 Feet From Stardom” is a film about rock and roll back up singers – hence the title.
Darlene Love is one of the backup singers featured in the movie. If you’ve ever heard “Da Doo Ron Ron” – and if you haven’t, download it on iTunes as soon as you finish reading this – that’s her.
She almost got destroyed by the big studios and producers and ended up cleaning houses before she relaunched her career in the 1980s. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Darlene Love is great, but the career advice I want to share with you here comes from another backup singer: Lisa Fischer.
If you’ve been to a Rolling Stones concert any time since 1989, you’ve heard her sing. She’s the woman who hits those incredible high notes on “Gimme Shelter.”
She recorded a solo album in 1991 and won a Grammy, but then decided that she didn’t want to do a follow up album. She was happy as a backup singer…
“I was putting myself out there for the business to put under a microscope and poke at with a pair of prongs. I didn’t like it. Sooner or later, something was going to break, and I didn’t want to break. I just wanted to sing.”
Lisa Fischer is clear on what she wants – singing backup for lots of famous artists and touring with The Stones.
While that’s not a bad gig, it’s different from what another of the backup singers featured in the film wants. Judith Hill wants to be a star. She’s been a contestant on The Voice and writes her own songs. She is having a difficult time making the transition from backup singer to star, but she keeps working at it.
This brings me to the career advice in tweet 2 in my career advice book Success Tweets: 140 Bits of Common Sense Career Success Advice, All in 140 Characters or Less. “The more clear you are about what success means to you personally, the easier it will be to create the life and career you want.”
You have to get clear on what you want out of your life and career before you can create that life and career – whether it’s singing back up for The Stones or being in the white hot spot light. Decide what you want, visualize yourself as having it, and tell yourself you have it. Then do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true. Spend the time necessary to accomplish your goals.
Start by carefully thinking through your priorities and your career success goals.
Ask yourself two very important questions:
- What do I want to do in this life?
- What is the result I want to achieve?
The answers to these two questions will not only guide the big decisions you make, they will serve as a guide for living your life on a day-to-day basis.
This visualization exercise will help you in clarifying your purpose and direction in this life.
It’s important because it helps you create a vivid mental image of what success looks like for you personally. This is not day-dreaming. It is real work. You are designing your future in your mind.
When I was younger, I realized that my purpose in life is simple – to help others grow and succeed.
I am a teacher and a helper. I enjoy helping others succeed. I’m good at it. It’s very fulfilling. When I’m at the end of my life, I expect that I’ll look back with great joy at the number of people I helped succeed.
I keep this mental picture in mind as I go about my day-to-day business.
I ask myself a simple question almost every day. “Bud, did the things you did today support your life’s purpose of helping others learn, grow and succeed?”
If I answer, “yes,” I consider it a successful day. If I answer “no,” I think about what I can do the next day to get back to living my purpose.
What’s your dream? Have you created a vivid mental image of it?
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people define what success means to them – whether it’s being a backup singer or a star. Then they develop a compelling and clear mental image of their success. They use this mental image to help keep their dreams alive and to keep moving forward to what they want in their lives and careers. Get clear on what your career success looks like. Keep this mental picture with you as you go about your day-to-day business. Every once in a while, ask yourself if what you did that day brought you any closer to your mental image of you as a career success. In this way, you’ll be keeping your dream alive – and moving toward your career success goals.