Statement #1 “I COULD NEVER…”
During a recent phone conversation with a DJ acquaintance I had met at the Las Vegas Mobile Beat Show a few years back, the subject of my pricing became the impetus for a new revelation. The DJ on the other end of the line works in a mid-range town in Montana while I work most often in Southern California. He had come across my new web site, MerryWeddings.com, and wanted to know whether or not it was working effectively for me. When I told him that the web site had played a small role in helping me to start booking wedding receptions at $5,000…he gasped and said “I’ll never get $5,000 for weddings in my market!”
That comment got me thinking. When I first heard the figure of $1,200 in reference to Mark Ferrell’s services from a photographer in my market back in 1998, I’m pretty sure I responded internally with a similar statement. “I’ll never get $1,200 for my services!” I was lucky if I could get $400 at the time.
As I pondered my reaction back then in comparison with this DJ’s reaction during our phone conversation, I realized that there had been a shift in my reactions to such ideas over the last several years and I began to wonder just how much of my current progress and success could be attributed to this slight mental shift.
In his “Getting What You’re Worth” seminar series, Mark Ferrell encouraged us to begin believing in our own worth as entertainers first, before attempting to command a higher price from our clientele. As I examined what had changed from my initial reaction of, “I’ll never…,” I began to see a pattern of reactions that sounded more like, “How can I…?”
When we respond to a new idea or new information by exclaiming, “I’ll never be able to charge that much,” or, “That will never work in my market,” or, “I could never imagine making enough to go full time,” we are making a statement of fact. Whether or not it is true, could be true and could be proven patently false is not up for debate. We have made a declarative statement that is based on our beliefs and perceptions about our own value, our own capabilities, and the limitations we perceive (or have constructed) in our own markets. Such statements do not lead to action, inspiration, or motivation. Instead they serve as self-fulfilling prophecies that keep us trapped in complacency, mediocrity, and even poverty.
But by simply choosing to change that declarative statement of fact, “I’ll never…,” into a question like, “How can I…?,” we open ourselves up the possibility of doing or creating something new. Christopher Columbus didn’t say “I’ll never cross the ocean.” Instead he asked, “How can I cross the ocean?” The engineers at NASA didn’t say “No one will ever land a man on the moon.” Instead they asked, “How can we land a man on the moon?”
I’ve met countless DJs who want to know how to charge more, or make a real living as a DJ, or increase demand for their services, but when they are presented with new ideas, lofty goals, or advice on business plans, they react with “I’ll never…” statements. But the best entertainers, the most successful DJs, and the most in-demand MCs all have one simple component in common…they consistently keep asking themselves “How can I…?” questions. They ask themselves, “How can I charge 20% more for my services next year?,” or “How can make my new wedding reception performances even better?,” or “How can I communicate my value more effectively in my sales meetings?”
Once they have asked themselves “how” it can be done, they then write out a plan and begin working their plan until it gets done. But it all starts with being open to the possibility in the first place. My friend, Mike Walter, appropriately calls himself a “posibilitarian.” He recently ran a marathon in under 4 hours. I’m pretty sure he didn’t tell himself, “I’ll never run a marathon in under 4 hours.” Rather, he asked himself, “How can I run a marathon in under 4 hours?” He answered his own question by finding a trainer and committing to a rather rigorous training schedule.
Personally, I believe most DJs shy away from asking “How can I?” questions and choose to fall back on “I’ll never…” statements because when they ask themselves a “How can I?” question, the answers that come up most often tend to require a steep investment of their money, time, and effort.
How much money do you spend on improving your talent or your sales skills? How much time do you set aside to prepare for your events or to attend a Mobile Beat Show? How much effort do you put into improving your performance or your marketing? How much is your success really worth?
When I was first inspired to write this article, I could have said “I’ll never get my point across.” But instead I chose to ask myself, “How can I get my point across?” Was I successful? Perhaps I’ll never know… 😉