How will you know if you are successful?

Most people only see cash as success. The amount of money in the bank determines whether or not they are a success. I think there’s a lot more to it.

I am technically retired from the music industry. Didn’t go out with a bang. Spent the last thirteen years in the business surviving and trying to open the studio I always wanted. Well, we barely survived and the studio is closed. My push to succeed almost cost me my family.

To most people, I qualify as a complete failure in the music business. None of the albums I recorded were hits. None of the bands I invested in went anywhere. ( at least not with me.) None of the other studios, businesses or ministries I poured my life into ever made anyone rich. Even my own precious studio became another issue that was damaging my family. After all those years of pushing, I finally got almost exactly what I was after. Less than six months after opening the doors, I was tearing gear out and selling it off. It had to go. To save my family, it became a necessary sacrifice.

All that time away from home, including studio time, damaged my relationship with my family. They figured out their place in my life. Everything was second to me doing what I wanted.

Anyone crying, yet?

So. Still struggling financially since starting our life over completely. Still not sure where we go from here. Still salvaging our relationships. Still working on that family time/work time balance. Just establishing that I don’t begin to qualify as a success by most standards.

However, by a different standard, I do. I was told once that success without a successor is ultimately failure. If we take all our training and wisdom to the grave, we have essentially wasted it. I blog because people need some help sometimes. I work hard on this map of the minefield. I am willing to share what I learned, to help you guys navigate through the minefield without hitting the stuff that almost got me.

You’re welcome.

Twice in the last week, someone thanked me for something I hadn’t really thought about. Kinda blew me away to think about it. One of my best friends needed help with his business. I came on for about a year to help him grow the audio side of his company. Trained him, helped get accounts, etc. That part of the company is now supporting the rest of the company during a down time. He thanked me.

The other one was a young guy I have known since he was a little kid. He got stuck working some shows, church events and other stuff like that for several years. I was always a butthead when it came to production work. Bossy, pushy, opinionated, obnoxious and demanding. He hung in there through a lot of tough gigs. Great guy. Tough kid. He thanked me for helping him get started in the business. I was thoroughly humbled. Got to see him this week for the first time in four years. He has his own business in Nashville now. Doing pretty well. Working with some legendary performers and they love him. Check him out. Riley Vasquez

About that success thing. I had honestly written off my time as mostly wasted and nonproductive. I felt like I had failed in the production world. Even though it hurt my family and never paid off like we had imagined, good came out of it. Several young men got a head start into an industry they love. Several ministries were blessed and able to continue doing what they do. Several businesses were able to do things they couldn’t have done. Several good bands got an opportunity to record and perform that never would have gotten a shot any other way. Even though I was mostly pushing a selfish agenda, I still managed to do some good. I managed to sow some good seeds and invest in good people without realizing it.

All I really wanted to say here was this. We are quick to judge ourselves and others by someone else’s standards. What the rest of humanity might see as success won’t really matter at the end of your life. To the general population, I utterly failed in the music business. However, to the people who I helped, I am not. It feels pretty good to realize it wasn’t just wasted years. We can’t always predict or choose how things turn out, but we can choose how we respond to them. We can also adjust our priorities and make better decisions. We can learn to invest our time and energy into the people who matter. Family first, then everything else.
I consider myself successful by the standard that most of the important people in my life love and respect me. The people who matter, not everyone else. Our relationships are that important.

Going to take the rest of this post to introduce you to some great people I worked with over the years. Some helped me, some I helped. All very important people from my years in the business. Feel free to visit them and see what they do.

Larry Howard Evangelist, Bluesman
Harvest Cathedral Powerful church
Bill Hardin Music Music store, online sales
Buddy Lovell AV crew in GA
Nathan Lee Video editor for Habitat for Humanity
Riley Vasquez Production monkey
Prison Fellowship Great ministry
Mike Cox and Flip Cruz AV crew in DC
Keith Watson New City Church and venue

There’s plenty more, but most of those slackers don’t have websites.

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