Letting go of my career as a professional musician was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. Even though I had not played professionally in over ten years, I couldn’t get myself to do it. What would my family think of me if I just gave up on being a musician? How do I explain to my friends that I just quit? How will other musicians treat me thinking that I couldn’t handle it? This was the disempowering language that I used to torture myself on a daily basis. I decided that I had no other choice but to keep “musician” as a part of my professional identity…
Marc Ensign: Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author, Musician and All Around Do-Gooder.
It was a mouthful, but that was my title. It’s who I was. Or at least who I told everyone I was. For ten years I lived out of balance claiming to be a professional musician amongst all of these other things when really I was just playing a few scattered gigs here and there. It was a hobby. Something that I enjoyed. Certainly not worthy of top billing next to my name anymore.
Of course, it’s very difficult to create an identity for yourself without it spilling into everything else that you do. The website design company I started was initially meant for musicians and artists. I was one or two shots of tequila away from inventing MySpace before there ever was a MySpace. Ironically, my company is probably worth more than MySpace is right now (just kidding Justin Timberlake…I’m sure it was a great investment). I reinvented my personal website www.marcensign.com 5 different times, always attempting to merge my background in music with my career in Internet Marketing. I even wrote a book and launched a website last year called “How to Make a Living as a Musician” which was accepted by Kickstarter but failed miserably after my lackluster attempt to get the word out.
I had a big problem. I was stuck. I was holding onto a rope that was tied to my past while simultaneously pulling on another rope tied to my future. And I was somehow confused as to why I wasn’t going anywhere. The only way to move in either direction was to let go of one of the ropes. So two months ago, after 10 years, I finally did.
I gave myself permission to stop calling myself a professional musician. It was powerful. I was finally able to enjoy the success that I had as a musician…and move on.
That was the week that I started this blog.
What Happened Next Was Amazing
When I decided to start writing, I agreed to commit to writing everyday. I wanted to attack this with the same commitment and passion that I did with every gig that I chased as a musician. When no one was reading it, I kept going. When no one was commenting, I kept going. When I couldn’t think of anything to say, I kept going. I refused to stop. I refused to get discouraged. I refused to give up. After all, I was no longer tied down.
I remember the first time I hit 100 unique visitors in a day. That’s a pretty big deal when you are coming from zero. I also remember my first blog subscriber that wasn’t related by blood or marriage. My first real comment was big too. It was even better that it was positive, although my first negative comment was pretty cool too! My worlds collided early on when I got to play bass with Chris Brogan and Jacqueline Carly in Boston after practically stalking them on Twitter one night. I wrote a post on the Google Penguin Update that got a shout out from Google’s Matt Cutts who called my strategy “solid” which started a whirlwind of new traffic, subscribers and follow up articles on other blogs.
All of this and much more, all because I gave myself the permission to let go of something that has been holding me down for 10 years…me. Now there is nothing left but possibility.
But Enough About Me…
What about you? What title have you given yourself that has been holding you back all of these years? Don’t be shy, you know you have something that you won’t let go of. It doesn’t have to be a profession from your past like mine was. It might be a damaging word you use to describe yourself. Shy? Boring? Unpopular? Stupid? Broke? Or perhaps it was an experience you went through that you created a story about. Were you made fun of in school? Bad relationship? Lost something or someone important to you?
What is it that you have created for yourself that you are living into on a day to day basis as if it were your default setting? What if you could just drop it. Remove the meaning that you have given it. Let go of that rope and finally start moving forward? What if it was as simple as just giving yourself permission to let it go?