This is not a lecture, and I'm not preaching.
What comes first, your personal life or your professional life? Maybe it's better phrased, how do you lead your personal life and how do you lead your professional life. They are both intertwined, or can be. I've come to believe that getting your personal priorities and your personal value system in place first reaps both personal and professional fulfillment.
There's a violinist I know. He's been the concert master for several major orchestras, he has highly respected recordings (with real sales), he runs a chamber music series, he teaches at several important institutions, and he tours throughout the country as a soloist and chamber musician. He recently started conducting too.
He's got real chops as a player...no doubt.
What does he love as much as performing? What's equally important to him? Teaching. Giving Masterclasses. Real outreach -- primarily with young people at risk. When he gets booked for concerts, he gets to the performance city early, days before the first concert. He works with the presenters in advance to find places where he can show up to teach, motivate, share his story, hear theirs and make a contribution to the community.
Yes, he also does all of the donor events, he knows how to schmooze with the patrons and VIPs, and he does it well. But he really enjoys the "outside" work -- showing up outside of the concert hall, in the streets, schools, community centers and other nontraditional venues.
He's made a lot of friends over the years -- not necessarily inspiring those he meets to pursue a musical career, but to let them know they can pursue a musical career if that's their desire. At the very least, his presence encourages them to keep music in their life, and that is perhaps one of his greatest gifts to classical music and maybe the world.
As much as he is a musician, and a most successful musician, he is a humanitarian first. A really good guy. Maybe that's why his playing is so warm, genuine, personal and virtuosic.
How would your professional career, and however you define success, be enhanced if you too showed up early -- and put yourself in front of the community, whether it's in your home base or your appearance at a summer music festival?
But those are the values and priorities that work for this violinist. What is your equivalent value or priority?
Working with the elderly? Playing at a hospice center like guitarist Tony Morris? Playing for victims of abuse? Performing for a rapt audience at the chemo ward at the local children's hospital. Homeless shelters or food banks? Rescue cat and dog adoption shelters? Planned Parenthood? The water in Flint, Michigan, global warming, music education?
Find your (not necessarily musical) passion: do it more and do it more passionately.
At the very least, it will make you feel good. And then see what might happen to your sound, ticket and CD sales and bookings.....and your impact on the world.