You Need To Know Your Why

Sep 04, 2021

It’s now 2020. A new year. A new decade. Another year to make your mark on this world with your music.

Behind all that you do as a songwriter and musician, there must be a reason.

A purpose. 

Not money, fame, or other empty pursuits. 

You need to start with why.

Simon Sinek’s life-changing book leans towards businesses, but it applies to everything and is the inspiration for this post.

Why do you need a why? Why do you need a greater purpose behind what you create?

 

Purpose Pushes Through Difficulty

When you’re exhausted and had a rough day. When songwriting just isn’t as fun as it was at the beginning of the year. When you sit with your guitar and the muse seems to have totally abandoned you, will you keep going?

If you have a purpose, you will.

If you just do it “for fun” or some other empty reason such as money (probably should explore other avenues) or fame, you won’t.

A greater purpose pushes us through difficulties. A greater purpose gives us reason to do things even in the times they may not be fun.

If you’re all alone and there’s no pressure or reason to walk barefoot down a 1,000 foot path of broken glass, would you do that?

What if your significant other or close relative such as child, parent, or sibling was going to perish on the other side?

That’s the difference between no purpose and a purpose. With no purpose, you’ll only do fun things while they’re fun for as long as it’s the most fun thing you can do.

With great purpose, you’re willing to even go through pain to achieve that greater why.

 

Manipulate or Inspire, Your Choice

No one likes preachy stuff.

I choose to go to church and listen to a sermon every week, but I still hate preachy stuff.

What’s the difference between manipulating people’s emotions and inspiring people?

People are inspired by a greater purpose that is real. They’re inspired by someone who genuinely lives out their purpose and mission. 

Just think of all the love NF is getting right now. I don’t generally like rap, but I love him and even went to his concert. Why? Because his whole thing is about being real. He’s real, his music is real, and he talks about what is really in his heart.

He doesn’t do “Christian music” and follow its rules. He doesn’t follow some of the implicit rules of what secular rap music talks about either. He’s unapologetically him. And he’s getting rewarded for it.

So I buy it. I love it. And, clearly, so are a ton of other people. And, most importantly, it’s him I find inspiring, not just his music.

You know who I’m not moved and inspired by? All the disingenuous pop stars out there. The ones who have a song telling little girls they’re beautiful and special and then follow that up with a song about, well, stuff no small child should ever listen to. Then a love song about never leaving someone behind followed by a song about wanting to use, abuse, and leave behind someone.

Ah, so they have no purpose and all their songs are simply there because their label asked them to record them so they could make money. What a worthless waste of talent.

I’m not saying every single one of your songs needs to have the same purpose. I’m not saying you can’t write some fun, meaningless songs just because. 

What I am saying is that you should have a purpose that informs everything you do. Part of my purpose is to write music that people who are struggling can relate to and, through that, feel less alone. Because they aren’t alone. 

And I want everyone to be able to feel less alone by what I create. Whether 8 years old or 88 years old. Because of that, I will never have curse words in my music. I’ll never sing about something overtly sexual or adult in nature. I don’t want a parent to have to take my music away from their child because of one song I have. 

Because I have that purpose, you can hear the purpose often in my music even in overt ways. A common theme I write from is dealing with that deep-seated loneliness or sadness that I think is somewhat innate in humans (or at least me!)

But, even when I don’t talk about anything related to those issues, I still won’t do something clearly at odds with my purpose. 

And it gives me clarity on what I should and shouldn’t do in my creations. It gives me a greater purpose to do what I do. It even gives me a purpose to continue making this blog and podcast, so other great songwriters can be equipped to go out into the world and make the difference that only they can make.

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