How do you define success as a performing artist?

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Say you’re a singer going for auditions. If you’re only regarding the audition as a success if you get the job, then probably (considering the saturated marketplace) many of your auditions will be “failures”. It’s also possible that you’ll be so worried about making a good impression and pleasing the panel that you won’t feel free to be expressive or make interesting creative choices.

But who gets to decide what defines success? I recently came across two very different definitions of the word:

  1. The attainment of fame, wealth, or social status.
  2. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

Definition 1 is how we often think of the word “success”. The problem is that defining success that way puts all the power over our lives into other people’s hands. Which is unfortunate, to say the least.

Looked at it this way, it’s easy to come away from a situation like that feeling like you’re inadequate. If you keep holding on to this attitude, who can blame you if you eventually don’t even bother to apply anymore? Whereas, in fact, the audition panel may have heard many superb singers and only been able to pick one for the job. Often, not getting the audition doesn’t mean you were awful, it just means there were too many suitable applicants.

So is there another way? What if we were to take definition 2 instead: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose? What if success is in our own hands, depending on how we define it?

For example, say your intention for an audition is to connect with yourself, the music, your pianist and the panel? What qualities would you need to be able to do that? Here’s some examples:

  • The courage to show up
  • The integrity to perform the way you feel
  • The positive attitude and confidence to want to connect
  • The openness to connect with the people around you
  • The desire to share the beauty and spirit of the music
  • The calmness to be able to deliver your best work.

If you intention is to show up in some of these ways, then if you do your best to do that, you’ve accomplished your aim. That equals success. You can therefore be proud of yourself, regardless of the outcome.

If you show up as your full self and get the job, you can rest assured it was the real you that they wanted.

And if you don’t get the job?

You will definitely be in a better position to audition again, because you have practiced harnessing more of your own power, worth and value. You have succeeded in accomplishing your aim to be true to yourself, which is far greater than any audition.