On being discovered

Back in my college years I took a trip to California. And on that trip I took a bus from San Diego to San Francisco. And on that bus we passed a series of huge vineyards. And I was fascinated.

It wasn’t the longest bus journey I ever made, but it was long nonetheless. And in the era before smartphones, and when roaming charges were prohibitive, all there was to do was read a book or think. And I had run out of books. Thankfully it was a great place to think. It was on a different bus journey a few thousand miles further south that thinking led me to making the choice to be a musician, but that’s a story for another blog.

Anyway back to the vineyards. They seemed to go on forever. Lines and lines of vines, meticulously planted. Diagonal to the road but each line at exactly the same angle to the next.

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When passing them at speed on a bus they would pass by in a flash. And while if you looked out into the distance all you would see was plants, when you looked closely from the bus window, between each line of vines was a equally straight, equally long line of nothing, a space where pickers or machines could harvest or tend to the vines.

These lines would appear out of nowhere. For a split second you would see them in all their glory and then suddenly they would disappear again, masked by the vines. There was a kind of beauty about each one however, a geometrical yet natural beauty.

I was reminded of these vineyards when listening to one of Seth Godin’s podcasts recently. It was about being discovered, being picked.

You see as an artist seeking to be discovered by a record label, a business looking for the right investor to make them an offer, or a guy hoping to be noticed by that girl who he met once in a coffee shop, you are just like one of those lines between vines in the vineyard. You may be beautiful in your own right, but there are millions out there like you, and the ones you want to see you for who you really are may only see you for a split second.

For years being discovered or picked was the only way to be successful in certain industries. That’s not the case any more.

So instead of waiting to be discovered, perhaps it’s better instead to make what you do so good that people seek you out, that they make the bus slow down as they are passing your line, because they know that yours is the one they want.

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