In late 2014 I challenged guitar builder Tony Nobles to create a visionary Dream Guitar.
But I didn’t want it to be my dream guitar.
I wanted it to be HIS dream guitar.
Three years later, Tony succeeded.
He announced, “There is no guitar like this on the planet.”
I’ve now seen it.
And played it.
And he’s right.
It’s a masterpiece.
Let me tell the story behind it:
Tony has been building guitars for almost thirty years. He’s made them for celebrity musicians such as Joe Walsh, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Alejandro Escovedo and others.
He’s also made them for lesser known collectors and players, like me.
I have a collection of a hundred old and new guitars by great luthiers, known and unknown.
Some of them (to name drop) are Bean, Baldwin, Collings, DK, Manzer, Maton, Versoul, D’Angelico, Veillette, Bacce, McElroy, Teye, Oxbow, Huss & Dalton, PRS, Santa Cruz, Fylde, Gigliotti, Trenier, Tesla, Trussart, and Zemaitis, as well as vintage Martin and Gibson models.
I’ve also seen impressive private collections, like that of rock icon Melissa Etheridge.
Guitars are playable art.
And sometimes a good investment.
I love them.
And no, you can never have enough.
I suspected a luthier with Tony’s decades of experience might be open to a bold idea.
I wondered –
What if I acted like a patron saint of the arts and commissioned him to create something visionary from his own mind, not mine?
Tony accepted the challenge in 2014.
For the next two years he read, thought, dreamed and wondered.
He also came to my home and spent a day examining my own collection, from the Fylde guitar made out of a former Scotch whiskey barrel, to Danelectros with their lipstick pickups, to an Oxford Guitars baritone electric made from gem stones and prehistoric wood.
I would also supply Tony with coffee table sized books about some of the greatest guitars of all time.
One book in particular became the resource for what would become the Dream Guitar.
The book was a hefty volume called Archtop Guitars: The Journey from Cremona to New York.
It displayed artistic photos and inside stories of museum quality guitars from three legends, D’Angelico, D’Aquisto and Monteleone. I had bought it from Rudy Pensa, the author and owner of Rudy’s Music in SOHO in New York.
Tony would later tell me, “Whatever I created had to be of the caliber of these guitars in this book, else what was I doing?”
Fast forward to October 20, 2016.
After almost two years of research and incubation, Tony showed me a sketch of an idea.
It was a light pencil outline on a torn off sheet of butcher paper, but I could see the vision being born.
The 1970’s Ibanez “Iceman” guitar inspired Tony. Paul Stanley of KISS made the Iceman electric famous.
“I like how that guitar sits well on your knee,” Tony explained. “Builders often forget the guitar has to be comfortable.” (Tony is a player, too, being in the band The Beaumonts.)
But that was only the beginning.
He knew he wanted an archtop, like those in the Pensa book, and he wanted an electric pickup.
My only request when I commissioned this guitar was a Bigsby or whammy bar. I love them.
Otherwise, Tony had a blank canvas to create per inspiration and will.
Tony was now off and running.
Using sinker log redwood, rare Brazilian Rosewood, and more, he began to carve and build what would become the world’s first Dream Guitar.
“I wanted the fret system to be different,” he says, “so I used what’s called True Temperament.”
Those are “wiggly” shaped frets that look odd but help the guitar stay in tune better and longer.
Things got even more unique when it came to the pickup.
“The Austin Sidewinder pickup was made specifically for this guitar by Bob Palmieri of Duneland Labs in Chicago,” Tony says. “I’ve never heard anything like it.”
When I finally saw the Dream Guitar in late December 2017, right before Christmas and just days before my 64th birthday, my jaw dropped.
But then I held it.
The guitar is feather light.
I thought of the term “floating guitar.” Tony says it’s less than five pounds. It sat on my leg as if it was tailor made to fit my knee.
Playing it was a surprise, too.
Each note has a distinct ring, and a sustain that is clear, rich, and drawn out.
The odd shaped frets weren’t even noticeable as anything different as I played, and may have made my chord fingering easier.
Guitar Monk Mathew Dixon, who I’ve made several bestselling instrumental albums with, was with me for the unveiling of the Dream Guitar.
He said, “Tony has undoubtedly created a masterpiece.”
I play the guitar every single day.
It’s already inspired two new songs.
And it’s inspired a new instrumental album that Guitar Monk and I have started “allowing” to happen.
The Dream Guitar is, well, a dream.
I saw that Tony had stretched in making this guitar.
Tony told me, “The little push you gave me down the path of uncertainty really did spur some growth.”
For me, seeing a man exceed his perceived boundaries and go pass tradition was inspiring and gratifying.
My books, music, coaching, mentoring, and presentations are all encouragements to do more and be more, to dream and achieve.
Even the album I made with Grammy nominated singer Ruthie Foster, and producer Daniel Barrett, was all about stretching, so much so that we called it Stretch.
And the new book I have coming out soon about strongman feats of strength, titled Anything Is Possible, is all about exceeding what we think is impossible.
I feel I succeeded in inspiring a builder to stretch, just as his one-of-a-kind Dream Guitar is now succeeding in inspiring me to create and play new music.
What would you do if you forgot tradition, perceived limits, and everyone’s expectations of what was possible – including your own?
PS – Tony Nobles can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/tony.nobles.5
Note: The professional photos of the Dream Guitar were by Rodney Bursiel.
Bonus: Here’s a 23-minute video about the making of the Dream Guitar:
Whenever you attempt a new goal, no matter what it is, you have to be aware of critics or criticism.
I’ve had my share of them over the decades.
It used to trouble me, as I didn’t understand how some people could be so negative or hurtful.
But an insight from science helped me.
It came from my favorite science author, Loretta Graziano Breuning. Her book on cynicism, Beyond Cynical, explained that critics have a chemical that goes off in their brain when they criticize someone.
In short, they feel good about themselves because they feel superior to someone else.
This feeling of “one up” comes from a serotonin shot in their brain.
Emmet Fox, a legendary author of metaphysical books, explained, “Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.”
When someone puts down you or your idea, it makes him or her feel smarter than you; better than you.
Critics like that feeling.
Loretta’s book, Beyond Cynical: Transcend Your Mammalian Negativity, grabbed me as soon as I read the back cover copy:
“Cynicism feels good because it triggers the brain chemicals that make us happy. It triggers dopamine by making things seem predictable. It boosts serotonin by making you feel superior to ‘the jerks.’ It stimulates oxytocin by cementing social alliances. Cynicism relieves cortisol as you fight or flee in your mind. Negativity is natural, but you can go beyond it if you choose.”
Now criticism makes sense.
Critics spread their negativity not to help others, but to help themselves.
It’s a type of drug addiction.
Only the drug is in their brain.
In other words, critics often criticize simply to (unconsciously) make themselves feel good.
They get a chemical rush in their brain, they like it, and they want more of it.
And thus a critic is born.
But are critics or criticism helpful?
I’m not talking about professional critics.
An employed critic’s job is to review art, movies, books, food, music and such. I’m not convinced they truly help people, but that’s another article for another time.
I’m not talking about inner criticism, either.
Getting past your own “monkey mind” of self-talking negativity is part of the awakening process to achieve your goals. But that’s also for another time and another article.
I’m not talking about invited criticism, either.
Visionary giant Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX advises to constantly seek criticism. He says, “A well-thought-out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold.”
What I am talking about here are the people who offer their criticism without your asking for it.
These are the people who show up and rain on your parade, before you even begin parading.
They don’t even like the idea of a parade, let alone your own parade.
And they don’t like rain, either.
How do you handle these people?
My rule of thumb is this: when you are starting a path to a goal, don’t share your dream with anyone except those who can help you attain it.
I have a ten-year-old great nephew who wants to build a car company.
Yes, a car company.
He has ideas for the make, model, name, and more. I’m in awe at his enthusiasm and creativity. I marvel at his ability to dream big, fearlessly and relentlessly. I wasn’t like that at age ten.
I was at a party with him once.
He started to share his auto design ideas with a relative.
But the relative started to bat down and criticize my great-nephew’s ideas.
“That’s been done before,” this critiquing relative told him. “None of your ideas are original.”
This same critic added, “Don’t be afraid of criticism. Welcome criticism.”
The critic’s comments were not helping my great nephew.
They were not practical suggestions.
They were not improvements or refinements.
They were dismissals.
Of course, most ideas have been done before.
The trick is to combine them and reinvent them and extend them so they become something new.
There will always be “new” cars that are “just” refinements of other cars. And some of these new cars will sell well.
So my nephew has as much a chance as anyone to create a car company that succeeds.
Besides, he’s only ten. Let him dream.
I don’t think my great nephew was swayed or stopped by the unsolicited criticism, which is a testament to the fortitude of him and youth.
In fact, when I checked on him later, he was still exuberant about making cars.
He told me, “You’re getting the first one I make, Uncle Joe. It’ll just cost you one thousand dollars for parts and stuff.” (He’s a kid. He has no idea of money yet.)
But not everyone is like that.
Even today, I keep my big goals to myself.
I don’t invite negativity.
I only invite support and input from people who might be able to help me achieve the goals.
You have to protect your dream in the early stages.
It’s much like an unborn child. You don’t want people judging you or it before it is even born.
If you are wanting to start a business, for example, I wouldn’t invite criticism.
Instead, invite people who have acknowledged success in the area of starting a new business.
Ask their advice, suggestions, and input, but not criticism.
I see uninvited critics as people who kill dreamers and dreams.
“If you have no will to change it, you have no right to criticize It.” — Mark Twain
I agree with Twain.
If you have something to offer to help a dreamer achieve their goals, then offer it.
But to condemn, criticize, complain, or any way rain on the parade, or darken a person’s sunshine, isn’t helpful. If that’s all you got, you should remain quiet.
Mark Twain also said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
My own policy is to encourage people.
“I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.” — Charles Schwab
Since I have no idea what the future holds, there’s no possible way for me to accurately predict if any idea will work or not.
So if I see or hear of someone pursuing a dream, I cheer him or her on.
I got the nickname “Mr. Fire” decades ago for this trait of always “lighting a fire” under people to go for their dreams.
Besides, encouraging people lights up my brain.
It’s my brain drug.
It feels good to help, to serve, to encourage.
Goethe said, “Correction does much, but encouragement does more.”
I’ve found being encouraged a type of fuel for my success.
Actor Kevin Bacon said, “A good director creates an environment, which gives the actor the encouragement to fly.”
When I was filming my first acting role, the director (Liz Tabish) made me feel safe and encouraged me.
As a result, my first starring role in an indie movie was easy and fun.
And according to the early reviews of Cecilia, I did pretty well, too.
In the end, you have to follow your dreams to feel fully alive, despite encouragement or criticism.
Of course, at some point you have to complete your project and release it to the world.
And that’s when you can expect critics and criticism.
When I was recording my first album back in 2012, a musician friend warned me, “Gird your loins! When you release your music, everyone will slam it. Just remember there are people who don’t like the Beatles, and I think they were gods.”
A friend of mine once said that “success breeds contempt.”
It helps explain why so many of my friends turned against me when my levels of success started to escalate beyond the sky.
It stirred the critics.
My point here is to keep your plans to yourself until they are complete.
And after that, remind yourself that there will always be critics.
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Life is really about pursuing your own passions and purpose, despite the odds and the critics.
Whatever your goal, whether to attract money or health or a relationship or some big audacious dream, there will always be people who will say you can’t do it, or explain why it won’t work.
“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn–and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” — Dale Carnegie
Just remember that critics are drug addicts.
They get high on putting down others.
So understand them and forgive them.
And also realize there are always people who will cheer you on, believe in you, support you and encourage you.
“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” ~ Epictetus
Look for those cheerleaders in your life.
Surround yourself with them.
And let the critics criticize and complain.
Stay too busy going for your dreams to even notice them.
To quote author Elbert Hubbard, “The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment.”
PS – You can find clarity and support in my Miracles Coaching program.
It shouldn’t surprise you that I’m writing yet another article here — my fifth — about the rock icon I love: Melissa Etheridge.
I saw her concert in San Antonio last night at the beautiful Tobin Center.
She rocked, of course, and tore down the walls of the new building.
Her power and charm remain high.
She is a bolt of lightning on stage.
I still marvel at her performances.
To my delight, Melissa spotted me from stage.
It was fairly easy for her to see me, as I was in the second row, basically not blinking throughout her entire show.
She blew me a kiss.
And when she was exiting at the end, she turned, pointed at me, and mouthed the words, “I love you, Joe.”
I thought I was hallucinating.
But the three people I was with all confirmed it. They saw it, too.
It gets even better.
After the show, I managed to get two minutes with Melissa.
I asked her if she had received my latest album, the one I created after my songwriting lesson with her, and the one she helped me name.
“Oh, I so got it,” she said. “I love it. It is great. And I’m so glad you called it The Great Something.”
The title “The Great Something” came out of my private music session with her.*
Apparently that moment was memorable for her, too.
And then she added what I needed to hear most.
She held the album in both hands, looked me right in the eyes, and said with all the sincerity of a turning point moment, “Keep at it. Do more.”
“Keep at it. Do more,” Melissa said.
Getting the encouragement of a music legend – who I happen to be a two decade fan of – was enough to fortify me to climb mountains.
I needed to hear it, too, as I’ll be performing with my Band of Legends for the first time on July 21st at The Townsend in Austin, Texas.
I am so grateful for Melissa, her music, her message, and how she has influenced my life.
I even wrote a song for her, called “Melissa Said,” as a way to show my gratitude. (It’s on The Great Something album.)
I’ve often said that a secret to success is to have someone believe in you almost more than you believe in yourself.
(That’s just one reason I created Miracles Coaching, so you can have someone believe in you, too.)
At this point in my life, I have numerous supporters.
But I’ve had a lot of them along the way, too.
Melissa Etheridge is one of them.
She’s been a coach, a mentor, and an inspiration.
Thank you, Melissa.
I love you, too.
PS – * Here are links to my previous four posts about my private songwriting lesson with Melissa Etheridge:
Bonus: Here’s Melissa Etheridge burning up the guitar as she tells you “Hold on, I’m coming!”
The big mistake most people make when it comes to using the Law of Attraction – or using anything to achieve their goals and dreams – is wanting to know how.
“How do I make it happen?”
“What are the exact steps I should take?”
“How do I get from here to there?”
The thing is, you rarely if ever know how in advance.
Once you complete a goal and can hold it in your hand, or show it off to friends, you can explain the how of it.
You’ll then have a complete beginning-middle-ending story.
The puzzle will be revealed.
You can then explain the steps you took.
But not before you attract it.
Recently I surveyed my list, asking what book they would like to see me write next. While virtually everybody wanted more books like Zero Limits and AT Zero on ho’oponopono, a few wrote in some suggestions.
Those people were usually wanting to know how to attract something specifically, and how I did it.
They wanted stories of people revealing exactly how they attracted their goals.
They were asking for step-by-step plans.
This is the big mistake.
Let me explain:
When I was making a name for myself as a copywriter and marketer back in the 1990s, a lot of things occurred that I couldn’t predict, let alone know how to make happen.
For example, the Internet came along.
Who saw that coming?
I was one of the first to be online already – on what were called Bulletin Board Systems (a kind of miniature, local only, limited reach Internet) – so when the actual Internet was born, I was already there.
The speaking and writing I was doing in Houston, where I lived at the time, now being posted on CompuServe and AOL, broadcast my name across planet Earth.
It helped make me cyber-famous.
It was certainly an essential step in my career.
But I never saw it coming.
It was never on my to-do list.
How could it be?
Are you starting to see how this works?
During these same early years, I wrote a little book called Spiritual Marketing.
I released it online, free, and it touched millions of lives.
I never knew it would do anything. I released it to the world in the hope that it would help people.
But The New York Times wrote about it.
And Bob Proctor urged me to publish the book.
And it became an early print-on-demand book.
It was also my first Amazon bestseller.
But I wasn’t following a “how to make it happen” plan.
No such plan existed.
These synchronistic events were happening as a side result of my passion and persistence.
They were happening organically.
They were happening on the way to my dream.
I couldn’t predict them because I couldn’t see them.
They were on the unseen road ahead, to be discovered as I kept moving forward.
And along the way in this adventure a publisher contacted me. He later published my book, Spiritual Marketing, but with a new title: The Attractor Factor.
That became the most powerful and popular self-help book I’ve ever written.
And The Attractor Factor was given to a television producer in Australia. She read it and contacted me.
She said she wanted me to be in a movie she was making about the Law of Attraction.
It was to be called The Secret.
That movie changed my life.
It put me on Larry King’s television show, twice, and got me invited to speak in countries I didn’t know existed.
How do you make those things happen?
After all, none of them could have been foreseen.
When people ask for the step-by-step exact plan to make something happen, they are making the mistake of thinking there is such a plan.
There is a general formula, but not a specific one.
There are formulas for helping you choose your intention, start taking action, and maintain momentum once you get going.
But there isn’t a specific “do this and then do this” plan.
Even Mark Twain knew it.
Twain said, on his 70th birthday, “You can’t reach old age by another man’s road. My habits protect my life but they would assassinate you.”
Thinking you can copy the specific things I did in my life to attract and achieve specific results in your life is a big mistake.
Thinking there is a “how” to get where you want to go is an error.
You attract the results you want with the formulas I have revealed, in books like The Attractor Factor, Attract Money Now, and most recently in The Miracle.
Other self-help authors have other formulas.
Mine goes something like this:
You’ll notice there isn’t a specific task that will work for you and everybody else.
There isn’t because there’s no way to know it in advance.
Steve Jobs knew this, too.
Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
Melissa Etheridge told it to me this way –
Have faith that it’s all working out in your favor.
Have faith that “The Great Something” is – as I sing in my title track song on my new album – your “hidden ally” in life.
Have faith in yourself, the Universe, The Great Something, and your journey.
And then one day, after the dust has cleared, and you realized you attracted your goal, you can look back and tell the how of it all.
You can then connect the dots.
But all you can do today is the next obvious action step.
It’s the next “dot” that will lead to your success.
Dot by dot, by dot, you will get there.
Now go do today’s “dot.”
PS – Check out www.MiraclesCoaching.com