Andy Grammer cut his teeth as a street performer on the streets and beaches of Santa Monica, California. He told Cal Fussman that the process of getting good at songwriting and performing was a lesson in surviving the gauntlet of mediocrity. When there’s something we love that we really want to do, we have to accept that at first, we aren’t going to be very good at it. It takes a while before our own work can meet the high standard of what made us love the thing in the first place. Who we meet on the journey makes a difference too.
Grammer’s early test of if a song was working or not was to see if people would stop and listen. In another world, that’s called market research and customer feedback. But to him, it was running the gauntlet of mediocrity to make something great. Eventually, he was “discovered” by his would-be manager Ben Singer. Singer took him that day to buy a better amp, a better rug to stand on, and a better sign. Now it wasn’t just Grammer in a sea of passing strangers anymore, he had support.
Cal picked up on this personal investment and pressed him on it. Grammer said that the difference between a person who is invested in you and someone who isn’t is that they want you to be better at whatever you’re doing, they don’t just want to be right or make a point. That’s rare. We all need these people in our lives. They’re the ones who help us level up our craft to meet a higher standard. They’re the ones we can trust.
When we think about our professional relationships, with clients and coworkers, we should acknowledge the blend of our individual and shared experiences. Trust is formed by making personal investments and showing improvement alongside others. When we have a shared vision of where we are going, we can use it to help persist through the gauntlet of mediocrity. Whether we are in Singer’s or Grammer’s position, it pays to define that vision and help each other move forward. You better keep your head up…