By Matt Wilson, author of Hooks: Lessons on Performance, Business, and Life from a Working Musician
Anybody stressed out these days?!
One doesn’t have to give much effort to find something to fret about. The world has never been more connected, and our media devices are ever-presently near to remind us what should cause us concern.
This year, I published Hooks: Lessons on Performance, Business, and Life from a Working Musician. After the initial slaps on the back and congratulatory “way to go’s” for my accomplishment, I realized I had a massive amount of work ahead of me if I wanted the book to succeed. A significant component of a book marketing campaign is social media. Pre-book release, I was an “every-now-and-then” poster. I would announce my shows or post a pic of my kids after a soccer game. Post book release, I was compelled to post all the time. In the early stages of my marketing efforts, I found my thoughts consumed with “what should I post next and in what format?” Social media is insatiable and managing my campaign became a full-time responsibility, often leading to the neglect of other obligations and, yes, stress.
I share my social media marketing experience to point out that stress can come from almost anywhere. Anything or anyone we assign meaning to in our lives has the potential to bring us joy and fulfillment. Yet, these meaningful endeavors or relationships will, at some point, be challenging and stressful. Count on it!
In my book, I offer three Hooks that help me manage my stress. Maybe you will find them useful also.
Hook #5: In pressure performance, your body will respond like a machine. Learn its buttons and levers.
As a professional performer, my job is to give my best performance no matter the circumstance. My training requires physical practice to improve my skill and mental practice to improve my ability to focus. Simply stated, my body and mind will respond during a performance in the way I’ve programmed it to respond—similar to how one would program a machine.
I’ve learned that the same training can be applied to my daily life. Knowing that I can control my attention and focus (choosing to think about something else) and making time to exercise and rest, I limit the effects of stress on my mind and body. I take care of my machine.
Hook #40 – Find Something frivolous and enjoyable that requires your complete attention and focus.
I play video games. Specifically, I play Madden Football. I’m highly competitive, and I can’t stand to lose! The game is challenging and requires my full attention—attention I gladly give.
Stepping away from your daily concerns can bring about a fresh perspective. Also, rewarding yourself with something fun and frivolous creates balance in your life. Balance is good. Reward is good.
Find something you love to do that will demand your attention and give you respite from the daily grind. You will reduce stress, have a good time, and be more effective when you get back to work.
Hook #77 – Choose an environment that inspires. Read, listen, and watch for what moves you.
Professionally, I am a writer, songwriter, musician, entertainer, and business owner. At any given moment, I have the opportunity to choose to create something or make something better for my business. I find that even forced inspiration can move me from a state of stress and worry to a place of hope and control. My stress wonders, “What if!” While my creative inspiration wonders, “What can be?”
As I write these words now, I’m “stressed out” over some professional concerns. Yet, as I focus on this message and my writing, I find that the concerning issue fades, and the stress diminishes. I’m aware the problem hasn’t gone away. I’ve just allowed myself some worry-free moments while the matter unfolds. (Everything comes to a resolution in the end, and usually, we all move on just fine.)
We are influenced by what we see, hear, and read. When feeling stressed, chose an environment that inspires and then create something, make something better, or get something done.
At this moment, I’m inspired to write “Choose and Move.” When stressed, choose where to give your attention and then get moving.
Let’s all lighten our load, and have a great day!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Wilson is a consummate professional performing musician and writer. He first gained national exposure wowing sold-out audiences as the “Piano Man” in the first national tour of Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp’s Tony-award-winning musical, “Movin’ Out.” In 2005, the Texas State Senate honored Matt with a resolution for his achievements in Fine Arts, and in 2016 he was accepted to the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Roster. His band routinely tours, headlining numerous public, private, and social events of all sizes. His original music has been placed in TV and film, such as Shameless and Once Upon A Time.
In his recently released first book, Hooks: Lessons on Performance, Business, and Life from a Working Musician, Wilson shares life lessons from decades of experience as a performing musician and business owner.