Do As You Say
“[T]here are many occasions when words are useless, and only deeds will make a man’s meaning plain; often enough, too, it is easy to talk—and only to talk, for no brave act follows.” - Darius in Herodotus’ The Histories
It can be easy to pay lip service to music; to claim that it is important to us, but for our actions to tell a different story. We say we want to improve at our craft, but we make excuses instead of practicing every day. We frequently speak of our dream to create original music, yet we never sit down to write or compose.
This creates a tension within us that takes a toll on our music, our happiness, and our lives.
We experience cognitive dissonance when our actions don’t align with our beliefs, feelings, and values. If you say—and truly believe—music is important to you, but you aren’t demonstrating this through your actions, you will feel psychological stress. This may manifest in small uncomfortable ways, like the guilt you feel when watching TV instead of working on music, or in more distressing ways, such as doubting your identity.
What you need to do is line up your actions so they reflect your words. If you say you’re going to practice, do it. If you talk about putting out an album, get to work and get it done.
Cal Newport often says regularly taking action in support of something lets your brain know it’s important and meaningful to you. You don’t take music seriously just because you say so; you have the evidence of your consistent efforts to prove it.
Words are wonderful. They can express interesting ideas, educate, and inspire. But in the case of demonstrating your commitment to music, words are not enough. They must be coupled with the right action to be truly effective. If music matters to you, then you need to demonstrate this through regular practice, writing, learning, and listening. Only then will your words actually mean something.