You’ve got a rockstar inside you. Having watched rockstars for years and spoken to experts, here are some insights on how to give that star permission to come out.
Give yourself a break, and realize that rockstars aren’t naturally any more confident or charismatic than anyone else. But they just learn to push through it, till the charisma and strong sense of self eventually start to ooze out of their pores.
You need to be able to step onto a stage and be ignored or even booed. And you need to learn to survive that and learn from that.
This one is a huge reason most of us aren’t rockstars, because we spend our whole lives avoiding opportunities to be criticized or ignored. But ask yourself: Do I want my inner rockstar to come out? If the answer is yes, you have to steel yourself and put yourself out there on more public stages.
Raph, a self-effacing and astute observer of the music business, says, “You do need thick skin, both on stage and off. I’m not sure a sane person would do it.” He recounts the story of the time he was setting up to play a coffeehouse where there was a grand total of two people, staring intently at their laptops. “As I tuned up,” he says, “one guy got on his phone and loudly announced, “Yeah, I gotta leave, there’s some guy here with a guitar….”
Understand that a rockstar doesn’t sing better than you, but he does sing louder than you. So, whatever you’re doing, pump up the volume. No, Jagger can’t sing worth a damn. Many rockstars tend to bray like goats, bleat like sheep or screech like banshees, and many of them are far from appealing to the eye. But they create a persona that’s far more appealing than the mediocre, individual parts.
Rockstars don’t try to erase their quirks. They double down on their quirks. So double down shamelessly on what makes you you. No, rockstars don’t soften their rough edges, they let them stick out and poke the rest of the world.
It’s okay to be desperate for approval. But decide that it’s not okay to be willing to do anything for approval. Rockstars need love, and they’ll hate you for not loving them. But they won’t jump through the hoops that would make you love them—whether it involves going to college, repairing their credit history or showering. In the same way, there’s no reason for you to be too much of a people-pleaser. Pleasers lack gravitas. Even if they gain attention, they’ll likely lose it with the next gust of the winds of fashion.
So turn the volume up to 10 in your career, then break the knob off. If you fail, you won’t get any points for failing quietly.
Jimi Hendrix struggled with shyness, racism and family tragedy. Robert Plant struggled with nerves that could have derailed his career at the outset. Bruce Springsteen struggled with depression and came close several times to lasting failure. Prince wasn’t even allowed by his record company to go on tour due to his lack of stage presence—and when he finally went out, he was booed and had shoes thrown at him as an opening act to the Stones in Los Angeles in 1981.
Yet they persisted. And eventually their inner rockstar came out. Yours can too.