Electric/acoustic guitar, electric bass guitar, acoustic bass guitar, up~right bass, violin, piano, keyboards, electric drums, soprano saxophone, clarinet, trumpet.

I  thought I had made a dreadful mistake with my own success. The temptation to sell out was enormous, and the rewards seemingly large. However, selling out may not get one the rewards one seeks; it always loses the most important reward of all, a sense of personal identity and integrity. Humans all need to find their own path. This need is why it is so important for mentors not to judge their mentees in terms of the extent to which the mentees reach the goals of the mentors, but rather, in terms of the extent to which the mentees reach their own goals. I view my success in terms of my own theory, which is to say, in terms of the extent to which may have furthered the accomplishment of my own goals.

In the course of your life, there will be many people who will try to set your goals for you. My advice is, well, to listen to their advice. Nevertheless, no one can set your goals for you. This is something you have to do on your own. There will be all kinds of pressure to listen to and follow the advice of others. Resist the temptation to succumb. Do what you believe is right for you; there is no other way in which you can be and continue to become yourself. The opportunities do not just come to you. Rather, you must seek them out. In addition, you must create the opportunities. In other words, you need to be proactive rather than reactive. No doubt, ability and luck both matter. Nevertheless, I am convinced that sheer persistence in the face of obstacles is an awfully large factor in the equation.

I have seen many people who started their careers successfully, then would encounter some kind of problem or another. Those who allowed themselves to be defeated would end up with their careers on hold or worse, in tatters. They could not take the heat, so they got out of the kitchen. However, the truth is that at some time or other, many people experience such losses. The question is not whether one will encounter obstacles, one will. The question is what one will do in the face of obstacles. Few attributes are more important then the willingness flexibly to surmount these obstacles. No matter how insurmountable they may seem at the time.

If there is one point I should make clear, it is that as often as not, the main obstacles to your success are within you. People who are optimistic often create the circumstances whereby their optimism ultimately will be justified. People who are pessimistic often create circumstances that result in defeat. So if you want to reach your goals and defy the obstacles to achieving them, maintain an optimistic stance .  It will not guarantee you success, nevertheless, it will go a long way. At the same time, there will sometimes be obstacles that you make every effort to surmount, and you just cannot do so. Sometimes there are things we really want in life, and for whatever reason, they are just not attainable, no matter how hard we strive. It is for this reason that, in life, it is important, always to have a “Plan B.”, just in case you’re “Plan A” fails.

As you proceed through your career, chances are you will have a variety of problems available for you to tackle and you may need to decide which one or ones are worthy of your attention. I believe that a major factor in deciding what to do is to find something that can distinguish you from the pack. No matter how bad things get, it is extremely important never to lose confidence in yourself to come to believe that you really cannot do much of anything. Strictly speaking, I refer here to loss of what sometimes is called self-efficacy,” not “self-esteem.” self-efficacy refers to your belief that you can accomplish the task you need to accomplish, whereas self-esteem refers to a more generalized high opinion of oneself that is not necessarily linked to performance. The problem is that once you lose your belief in yourself, you have nothing to keep you going. Telling yourself you can do something does not guarantee you can do it. However, telling yourself you cannot do it almost certainly guarantees that you won’t because you will not even try. It is thus important not to give up on yourself!

Dane B. Banks

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