In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell’s book from 2015, the author tells stories of the underdog winning or getting the best of the universally recognized giant. But this is not the typical Rah Rah, hard work, persistence and overcome adversity book.
These are fantastic stories about underdogs who capitalized on their weaknesses, and turned them in to strengths against someone bigger, badder and seemingly better than themselves.
How did the small David slay the big and fierce giant? How did the middle school basketball team and their coach, with no basketball experience, training and height advantage, become state champions?
They did it by owning their shortcomings and then transforming them in to strategies that made them successful.
In the case of the art you create, I am not implying that you have weaknesses, or that you don’t have Goliath’s reach. Of course, you play, compose and conduct beautifully, meaningfully and memorably.
I am implying that you have a compelling personal story and history that will advance your personal and professional case. Maybe you haven’t won multiple competitions. Competition winners get a lot of attention and bookings. That’s a part of their story.
You do have something equally compelling and perhaps even more attractive. For one, you probably have the valuable experience and stories from the trenches that came from preparing for and entering competitions. This also applies to orchestra auditions.
What else do you have?
Your take on the Mendelssohn, Rachmaninov, Brahms and Tchaikovsky concertos might be revelatory to audiences who know this repertory well, or to those about to hear them for the first time.
You might have a long, established track record of integrity, honesty and loyalty. No one ever called you a prima donna or primo uomo (the male incarnation). Presenters know you will show up and do your thing at the highest level with zero drama.
You might have an enlightened insight to create of find interesting projects that are off the beaten path, and the creative means and drive to make them happen in big and beautiful ways.
You might rock the meet and greets in a way that inspires strong lasting feelings, memories and future interest from those whom you meet.
What about your commanding stage presence that draws people in close and personal?
It’s crowded out there. There are other skills and attributes you possess that set you apart from the rest in an intriguing and captivating way.
You might not be the underdog at all.
Please read the first two chapters of David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. These are terrific stories that are likely to offer you a new perspective.
P.S. And even if you are the underdog, almost everyone roots for them.