9 Life Lessons From Nashville Bars


Life Lessons are everywhere. The task is to slow down and find them. The trick is to apply them to your situation. Let’s see how the lessons I observed can be applied to you!

This winter I’m working from Nashville. As expected – this town is amazing! What I didn’t expect was the amount of inspiration to be found on every corner and in every Honky-Tonk (and there are a lot of them!)

It seems Music City is a magnet. It draws thousands of aspiring musicians and songwriters every year to this melodic mecca. Why? To make dreams come true!

For me – the non-musical observer – it’s fascinating. The odds of going from “fresh off the bus” to “The Grand Ol’ Opry” are like winning the lottery. But, like the lottery, some do win – just ask Carrie Underwood! However, it doesn’t happen easily or often. Just ask the millions who don’t make it. Oh wait – we’ve never heard of them!

For me, it is the staggering odds that create the inspiration. The vast majority won’t “make it”, yet they arrive in droves (80 to 100 people a day move to Nashville) convinced it’ll happen for them!

I’m heading home in two weeks, but not without the following life lessons firmly in hand. Take a look and see what you can apply to your situation.

Honky-Tonk Life Lessons:

  1. Dream Big or Go Home:  No one comes hoping to write/sing jingles for television commercials. They are here to get their star on the walk of fame! They have dreams that scare them and they won’t settle for less!
  2. Accept Rejection:  Failure and rejection are normal and expected. It is part of the process. Sure it can hurt, but it doesn’t stop them. Not only do they accept it, but they use it as fuel to get up and try again!
  3. Start Small – Then Upgrade:  No one tries for the CMA’s their first week in town. They find a street corner; then an afternoon shift off Broadway; then on Broadway and they keep trying until they are ‘in the round’ at the Bluebird Cafe. They get a little momentum first and then build more.
  4. Be Bold: There aren’t people who take their hand and or give them a roadmap to success. They don’t have an ‘easy button’ to push. They make it happen; they push the envelope. They own their destiny. They build their network and boldly seek opportunities.
  5. Passion is Required:  They can’t put in the time, energy, effort or commitment without passion. They love music and art. For us, the “logic” behind their action and sacrifice seems to be missing, but we don’t share the passion. With passion – higher levels of potential appear. If they didn’t genuinely love what they do – it wouldn’t work.
  6. Hone your Craft and your Talent: Practice, practice, practice. For them – it is normal and expected. Every day they designate time to learn, apply and refine their abilities. They know they aren’t the best at what they do. It doesn’t discourage them – it motivates. They practice daily (much more than they perform).
  7. Don’t be a Victim: Someone is better; someone is luckier; someone has more connections. It is what it is – they don’t put their tail between their legs and go home. Don’t focus on what others have that you don’t – play the hand you’re dealt.
  8. Celebrate Tiny Successes: They know it is a long, steep road. They take genuine joy in all the small steps. It’s the only way to stay energized and positive. Applause, tips, smiles, laughter – they take whatever the audience gives and celebrate.
  9. Take the Initiative: If you don’t drive your agenda don’t expect others to do it for you. As Abe Lincoln said: “Good things come to those who wait – but only what’s left by those who hustle.” These artists live that motto daily. Without seeking opportunities, very few doors just open. They actively ask, listen, knock and try. If it doesn’t work – they try again tomorrow!
They don’t have an ‘easy button’ to push. They make it happen; they push the envelope. They own their destiny. Click To Tweet

The task now is to apply any of these life lessons to your situation. They aren’t new. You intuitively know them, but they drift to the back of your consciousness during the daily grind.

Let’s go and show the musicians we are listening!



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