I’ve yet to meet Matchbox Twenty singer and Grammy-winning songwriter Rob Thomas but I’m sure learning from his music, songwriting, and success.
In reading everything I can about this talented young man, I found a 2009 article in Keyboard magazine that made my head spin.
The real secret of Rob Thomas’ success might surprise you.
It did me.
Here it is:
Rob doesn’t wait for inspiration. He works.
He takes massive action, which of course is the important hidden key word in the phrase “Law of Attraction.”
Rob said “…half of art is getting out of f***ing bed and doing it.”
He said he doesn’t recall the last time he worked a 40 hour week because he works 18 hour days. (!)
He went on to explain that he often spends entire days, one after the other, trying to write a song, and turning up nothing.
But then one day a hit (such as Her Diamonds, Push, Lonely No More) is there. He admits it’s the work before the hit that enables a hit to be born.
The article quoted visual artist Chuck Close as saying, “Inspiration is for amateurs.”
“Inspiration is for amateurs!”
Made me think of the famous Jack London (author, The Call of the Wild) quote where he said he doesn’t wait for inspiration. He lights out after it with a club.
You may be wondering how all of this flows with my own philosophy of honoring inspiration and taking action.
I love it.
What Rob Thomas is doing is inviting inspiration with his working. There may be a time or two when a whole song comes to him as a gift, all written and ready to be sung. But I doubt it.
Inspiration comes when you show up and knock on its front door with work, and then when it gives you a peek, you take it and mold it into life.
Many authors have admitted their secret to inspiration was simply sitting and typing.
Ray Bradbury said writing a story a day gave him some classic sci-fi literature.
Jack London wrote over fifty books with his work ethic of writing 1,000 words every day.
How easy is this?
A friend misread the Jack London quote and wrote 2,000 words a day. He wrote and published a dozen books before he realized he had accidentally doubled Jack London’s discipline.
I write virtually every day, maybe not as relentlessly as Rob Thomas, but maybe I should. He’s far more famous than me, and has far more girls after him.
The point: Don’t sit around and wait for inspiration. Discover the prayer of work, which invites inspiration. Yes, you may perspire along the way, but if you’re doing what you love, you won’t care.
Let me repeat that:
When you’re doing what you love, you may “work” longer hours than anyone else, but you won’t care because you’re doing what you love.
It looks to me like the success formula of Rob Thomas is this:
1. He follows his passion. He openly says all he knows how to do is sing and write songs. He’s focused.
2. He shows up to work. He says he works 18 hour days.
3. He continues to work. He shuns the parties and distractions and continues inviting inspiration through the discipline of work.
Pretty simple, isn’t it?
Do what you love by working at it every day and your intention will meet inspiration along the way. (Hey, that sounded like a song lyric.)
Rob is so clear about his purpose that he used to identify himself at airport security as “rock star” before he was one.
Finally, there’s another quote in the same interview with Rob that I like. He said don’t be afraid to screw up. To be exact, he said…
“Dare to suck. That changes everything.”
Now get to work.
PS – If you personally know Rob Thomas, please tell him I’d like to meet. He’s been an inspiration, and several of his songs are in the jukebox in my head and won’t stop playing, which is just fine with me. I love them. He also has a movement to help homeless people, so he might want to know about Operation YES.
Bonus: Here’s Rob Thomas singing the 1999 chart-busting hit Smooth (which he co-wrote for his wife, Marisol) as Santana smokes: