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On playing guitar, Joe Rogan, and cringing at your work

Image by Firmbee from Pixabay

At the end of band practice on Saturday morning, I turned to the leader of the group, our pianist, and asked her how things were going.

In the span of just a few short months, I went from “I might want to try playing guitar once in a while but only by myself” to “I could try playing a simple song with the band” to “now I’m the band’s guitarist.” This was our first practice where I had to really step up and be in the band as a guitarist and vocalist, and I wasn’t sure how well I held up.

She smiled and said it sounded good. Then, she said, “You’ll look back on these days and cringe if you heard yourself, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing bad. You sound fine. You just sound uncomfortable.”

I said, “Yeah, well, I am uncomfortable.”

Her response? “Of course you are. But the only way to get comfortable is by playing, right? So you’re doing what you’re supposed to. You’ll settle in the more you do it.”

That comment stuck with me, not only for the grace of a group that is letting me play with them in public every month even though I’m not ready for prime time. But also because it speaks to what success really looks like.

Joe Rogan and his “comfort level”

If you have been living under a rock, you might not know that Joe Rogan is one of the most influential podcasters on the internet today. He gets tens of millions – maybe hundreds of millions – of listeners, and he uses that platform to not only have entertaining people on, but also thought leaders and great minds to discuss openly the issues of today in politics, science, health, and other things.

Personally, I love Joe Rogan’s podcast. He has a fierce dedication to the freedom of speech, and he engages with people’s ideas. This is something sorely lacking from most platforms today. If someone presents a thought on Rogan’s show, he doesn’t dismiss it or accept it outright. He keys in on it and tries to get the other person to discuss the merits of that idea. It’s how freedom of speech works.

Regardless, he’s just a guy with a microphone.

Joe Rogan is a standup comedian. He’s sometimes an actor. He is a commentator for UFC. And yet, his podcast has developed into a crazy platform where people flock to listen and be heard in a respectful, intelligent way.

While discussing this on a clip that I listened to while snowblowing my driveway Saturday night, he talked about how he can’t listen to himself talk, and how he cringes so much when he hears or sees clips from his first podcast episodes.

He says he was awkward. He didn’t know what he was doing. He had a hard time interviewing people.

But, as he and whoever-was-his-guest-at-the-time mentioned, that’s because he was still in the process of putting in the work. He was doing reps. He was showing up and getting better at his craft every day.

“What gets you good at comedy? Stage time. What gets you good at podcasts? Podcast time.”

There is great value in showing up

One of my goals in 2021 is to create more content online, especially blog posts. Writing is my strength, it’s what I do for a living, and it’s how I intend to build my audience.

That being said, blogging is still something that I struggle with. Some days, I feel like what I have to say has little value. Other days, I feel what I write isn’t as good as how it was in my head.

In those moments, I tend to overthink and then push off writing a blog post. My Finish 2021 calendar then gets a big red dot for the day instead of a satisfying black X.

What I have to do in these moments is just focus on being prolific. My next blog post might not set the world on fire or break the internet or whatever cliche you want to use about going viral. I may not be immediately building a body of work that influences society.

But what I am doing is putting in the reps. I’m showing up and working on my craft, publicly and openly. Some days, I’ll write something good. Other days, I’ll write something that makes me cringe.

It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I show up.

The only way to get better at being a podcaster is by recording more podcasts.

The only way to get better at playing guitar in public is by playing more guitar in public.

And the only way to get better at writing and publishing content is by writing and publishing more content.

Even if it makes you cringe occasionally.