Success is spelled SACRIFICE – 4 lessons on work ethics we can learn from a young musician

by Early L. Jackson

Because of his work schedule, you can hear the sounds of his trumpet as he practices at the weirdest hours.

In 2011, my wife and I relocated to my childhood hometown of Virginia Beach. As we packed up our moving truck we were optimistic that this was both a strategic move and one of great opportunity. We couldn’t wait to get plugged in through networking and cultivating new relationships. The move was relatively painless and we quickly met new people in the townhouses we called home. I had no idea that I would get such a vivid life lesson from the musician who lives on the third floor.

My interaction with this young musician began with simple pleasantries as we passed in the parking lot or checking the mail. I learned he was holding down a fulltime job, was the leader of a hot local band, all while raising a young family. His wife and son can been seen in tow as they rush off to family events. For a young man, he seemed very settled and focused.

Because of his work schedule, you can hear the sounds of his trumpet as he practices at the weirdest hours. It’s quite funny, I can hear him learning a new piece for a gig or just going over materials to better his skills. As I sat the other night, I could hear him practicing an old tune and it made me think of some life lessons I have gleaned from his example.

  • Life happens best for those who work their tails off: As I have watched this young musician, I have seen him rush home in his uniform only to change, load equipment in his car and run off to his events. As a local artist, he is gaining momentum mainly in part to his work ethic. Judging from his fan page on Facebook, he has a dedicated following who appreciates his professionalism. He’s not sitting around waiting for a ‘big break’; he’s making his breaks now.
  • Talent isn’t enough, you’ve got to practice: One Saturday just as September was making its exit and October was revealing nicer weather, the air was filled with neighborhood kids running about. At a time when people are usually out enjoying a free afternoon, I sat and heard him through an open window fixating over the harmony of a song. When we finally bumped into each other in the parking lot, he mentioned he had been booked for a wedding that day. He admits he was born with a huge musical ability, but he had to practice and take his craft seriously.
  • Success is spelled SACRIFICE: This seems to be a dirty word to most. But to really be what you want to be, you have to sacrifice what you are now. My musician friend from the third floor knows sacrifice well. Whether sacrificing sleep, party times, hanging with his toddler son or even a date with his wife, he’s had to give up some things now to compete in the music scene. Some see it as a negative, but he understands this is just a part of getting to the top.
  • Treat every opportunity like the championships: When we first met his band was playing smaller venues in the area. I have seen firsthand how he’s made connections and the venues are growing and more opportunities are pouring in. As I said, the local music scene is ultra competitive, but he’s become known for giving an awesome show. His fans know when he hits the stage; they will receive a set filled with passion. Why? Because he knows that giving anything less is cheating the people who support him.

Other than a brief run with my junior high school band, I can say I have absolutely no musical abilities. I love to listen to all genres but that’s as far as it goes. I do however find inspiration from those who have the discipline to perfect their craft. It’s awesome to see and hear what dedication can produce through music. It is that quality that made me notice my neighbor from the third floor. He may never know how much his work ethic has encouraged both my life and business.


Early L. Jackson is co-founder of New Direction Coaching Associates and author of “Groomed For Greatness: 31 Days To An Empowered Life”.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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