Watch the The Quality of Thought online guitar lesson by Steve Vai from Alien Guitar Secrets: Passion & Warfare
Your best friend in your career is going to be is your good attitude or perspective, which I now understand because I went through very many perspectives. One of things I learned from working with Frank Zappa, was that when Frank wanted to do something he just did it. He got excited about it, did the three step process, and it happened. He never made excuses, and he never expected somebody else to do it for him. And if you're expecting anybody to do anything for you in this business, you're being foolish. The sooner you know that, the freer you'll be to carve the path you want.
The quality of your career in this business, or any business, is based on your attitude - your attitude being the quality of thoughts in your head. That's it. Matter of fact, in your career as a musician, you'll find many things that will seem extraordinarily important to you, such as the music you make, the people you play with, how to arrange time between your family and your work, how to get a record deal, how to pay for your rent, etc. are actually relatively important, and not absolutely important. Everything is trumped by your attitude, because everything comes from it.
The problem that we face sometimes is that there's a momentum in particular types of thoughts that we've been harboring in our head for a long time, and then we create an identity for ourselves based on what's happened to us in the past, and usually this identity becomes a belief system. This is true for all 7 billion people on Earth, so you believing that your perspective is correct is useless. There's somebody that believes that you're wrong, and they believe in their own perspective. So the point I'm making is don't be so serious about your beliefs, because when you start loosening up on them, other things lighten up quite a bit. Things like your musical career. And that's really what you want to ask yourself - "How do I feel about what I want to do in the music business?" When you ask that question, you'll always know the answer if you're in touch with the way you feel.
Your navigation through the music business can be very simple if it's based on your instincts, moving at the right time and right place. It's easy to say, but how do you identify with your instincts? Well, you won't be able to if your mind is festooned with thoughts, especially negative ones.
Most of the time, when something's not happening for us, we blame it on somebody else. It's an easy thing that we all do. But really what must happen is you have to have the courage to see the thoughts in your head, feel the quality of the thought, and change it if you don't like it. The secret is in identifying your own thoughts and changing them to a higher vibrating thought. A lot harder than one might think. And it can be done!
Although we think that there are things that are true, or rather that there are things that happen that we cannot change, by maintaining a good attitude and perspective we can still make it happen for ourselves. I'll never forget the day that I decided to love the music business; everything changed for me. And it was just a simple shift from feeling that I wasn't worthy in the music business, or blaming others for things not happening the way that I thought they should go, to finding things about the business that I liked and made me feel good. And that's really all you have to do, and it's really all your work really is, is finding things you like and focusing on them. They'll lead to other things you like, and that leads to more things that you like.
For instance: Today is the best time in history for a musician to be independent. There's more tools at your disposal, more opportunity with social media, and more interest and excitement to do things on a wildly creative level right now than there was before. Before, if you wanted to make a record, you had to have a lot of money and go into a very expensive studio. Now you can do it on your iPhone virtually! If that's your perspective, and it can be, start out slow, see how you feel, and find a thought that you can grab that you believe. And that leads to another and another, and that changes everything. It changes the quality of your relationships with the people you are dealing with in the music business, and you start seeing things happen, and you'll find that there's a deep appreciation that comes over you for every little thing that you have and achieve.
This appreciation is also for what other people are doing, with encouragement and support for them, with enough success to go around for everybody. People think that if somebody took their spot, there's no more room, but really that's just an illusion. The universe can supply all the success that you believe you can have, and it starts by changing your attitude, but it has to be sincere. You have to believe that your music is important to you, or believe that you want to be good, or you want people to experience what you're playing, want to improve and expand, you want freedom to create any music that you want, without excuses, and without being subject to anybody else's opinion on what it is you want to do. Don't you also think that's the case for everybody else around you? When you can approach other people and actually support them sincerely, it will affect your entire perspective and career. You'll just have to do it and see.
These things are vitally important, and they don't even have anything to do with the instrument. Everything flows from this. This is maybe why I don't necessarily talk a lot about technique, although I do find it to be important, is that this is deeper than technique. I hope it resonates with you, as these were the things I didn't realize were happening to me when I was younger going through the process. I only cared about myself, and only cared about what I wanted. I suffered a lot because I could only focus on this, and once I started lightening up I started enjoying it a lot more and things started flowing a lot easier.
One of the things that I've always wanted to do is what I'm doing right now - telling you all about it! So I hope that it works for you and helps.