We all can agree that certain qualities are a must have to ensure some success for us as creatives. Everything from work ethic, to networking, branding and discipline all play a part in the everyday grind toward your creative goals. Often times however, we tend to overlook a most important quality...perseverance. This quality in itself usually has to encompass all of the other qualities in order for success to truly occur. Our good friend Dave James (artist, producer, musician) stopped by this week on the podcast and we ended up talking about this phenomenon that seemingly plagues anyone trying to accomplish goals, especially those in the arts; this reality that must be faced is that success will take time, and it just may take way longer than you imagine.
On this week’s show Dave shares his amazing new EP, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” with listeners, but he quickly confirms that even though this is the first thing that many have heard from him, it technically can be considered his fourth body of work. He also lets us know that he was in a band prior to all of his solo production for sometime that many haven’t connected him back to. This depiction, of what arguably could be called a full career before being noticed by masses, seems to all to often be the narrative for artists and creatives alike.
To this point in our discussion Dave brings up American singer Sixto Rodriguez and the documentary created telling his story (Searching for Sugar Man, 2012). In short, Rodriguez had a record deal in the US but sold few records, and was dropped from his label. With this he was relatively unknown in the States and he ended up quitting music for decades working low income jobs. What Rodriguez didn’t know was that his music made it abroad going platinum in South Africa as it was received as anti-apartheid revolution music. Just as Rodriguez didn’t know about his success overseas, fans also thought he was dead. Somehow his daughter stumbled upon his success online and fast forward years later he ended up touring overseas with documentaries covering the journey...oh, and of course he received the delayed US success decades later with tons of TV performances and much attention back to his old music as the documentary about him won an Oscar. Obviously this is an extremely rare case of delayed success, but if one does enough research they can quickly find that this form of belated stardom is pretty common.
Morgan Freeman, Jk Rowling, Martha Stewart are a few considerable “late bloomers,“ but you could even just look at most musicians’ careers to see this situation quite frequently play out. Dave brought up the good point in our conversation that Common received his first Grammy after almost a decade and a half of rapping and being known for a totally different sound. We could also most certainly look at Kanye West’s career which shows him producing records for years in the background, then even being denied record deals before budding as an artist and now becoming a cultural icon.
History has shown us time and time again that perseverance is an unavoidable part of the process, yet so many people year after year give up on their dreams when things don’t seem to be happening as fast as they would like. I’m here to encourage you to try loosening up the timestamps on your success and passionately work and perfect your craft with purpose. We know that perseverance builds character and a lot of character is needed to steward success well. Taking all of this into consideration it may be fitting to remember this quote by Thomas Edison: “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Maybe you should think twice when you feel like giving up, because it could mean that you are closer to success than you think.