The party games inspired the idea for this post. You see, party games are great until that awkward moment when someone wins, because that means everyone else lost. Kids don’t handle losing too well, and parents don’t enjoy explaining the harsh realities of winning and losing. Often times we will gloss over it as say something like, “Everyone did a great job!” or “You are all winners!” I witness the same thing at the elementary school where I work. Everyone is wonderful, awards are given out for everything and expectations are constantly being lowered.
Unfortunately, that is not the way real life works. Real life is competitive and there is usually only one winner. Especially in the music industry, there is a tremendous amount of competition. Even if you practice eight hours a day, gig every weekend and hit social media as hard as you can you still may not succeed. Sometimes success is more about knowing the right people or being in the right place at the right time.
So, how can a generation of “superstars” who have never actually applied themselves to achieve anything make it in the big bad world of music (or any industry)? In truth, they can’t. By cushioning the harshness of competition and reality for our children what we have actually done is render them incapable of being driven and successful. In the music industry, I see the same theme throughout the stories of many of the stars that have risen to the top. They were deeply committed to pursuing music. They faced a tremendous amount of hardship, adversity and rejection before experiencing any level of success. The main factor that caused them to achieve success was their tenacity and drive. They were not willing to give up no matter what happened along the journey.
Learning that level of tenacity and drive can be a harsh lesson. I don’t know if it is a good idea to try to teach that to young children, but it needs to be taught at some point. People need to understand that one’s full potential is not achieved automatically, and there is often only one winner in the real world. Competition can cause stress and anxiety, but it can also push driven people to achieve greatness. We need to come back to a healthy balance between encouraging our young people and challenging them to achieve their fullest potential.