Something Athletes Do Which Creatives Should Adopt.
In December of 2017, Help Musicians UK launched an initiative the music industry has needed for quite some time now. Music Mind Matters is a 24/7 available support line put in place to discuss mental health issues faced by artists and others in the music industry. This essential service marks a change in attitudes towards issues surrounding mental health and is helping to open up the conversation within the music industry.
In order to shed some light on the issue, this piece will attempt to discuss the importance of mindset training in sports and how we may apply this knowledge to the creative arts.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM SPORTS.
In athletics, a coach will give the strengthening of an athlete’s mindset as much importance as their physical training. It’s been broadly accepted that the two go hand in hand. The 2015 Sunday Times #1 bestseller, Winners; And How They Succeed, explores the importance of mindset and how it influences a person’s success.
Both athletes and their coaches need to be aware of the power of mindset training. Seven-time surfing World Champion Layne Beachley is reported to have given her mental preparation equal importance to her physical training. Coach Rob Rowland-Smith suggests that many athletes underachieve because they don’t work the six inches between the ears; the most important muscle in the body.
Irish rugby player, Brian O’Driscoll explains, physical and mental strength go hand in hand. if the body is weak, there is nothing the mind can do about it. On the flipside if the mind has no more to give, the body will be powerless.
Many athletes & their teams will tell you how much they value their mindset training and how it helps them overcome their doubts, fears and anxiety. Former football player Glenn Hoddle explained how he learned to view pressure in a different way when all eyes were on him to win the 1998 World Cup. He learned to diffuse pressure and approach it with gratitude.
Winners explains, most people outside the world of sport shy away from engaging with their minds and would find doing so to be a potential source of embarrassment. By doing this they are limiting themselves:
"People in sport have recognised the importance of psychology in achieving success, and openly employ psychiatrists and psychologists”
In the creative industries it’s a well-known fact that mental health problems are a serious issue, not just with artists but with their teams. Around 70% have admitted to suffering from some type of mental health issue.
In an industry where neither physical nor mental health is prioritised, taking care of ourselves properly can prove to be a great challenge.
TORTURED ARTIST SYNDROME
An important discussion is now being faced by creative industries, about the romantic perceptions held of the ‘tortured artist’. Suffering for one’s art is seen as a necessity in order to produce anything of value. Young artists look up to their heroes and want to mirror their rock and roll lifestyle of excessive drinking and drug abuse. Sleep is regarded as a burden. Eating right and taking care of oneself is never a priority. Now, mix this lifestyle with depression, anxiety and stress and you can find some incredibly heartbreaking situations.
Great artists such as Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Ian Curtis, and most recently, Chris Cornell are all examples of what depression can do. Yet, they are worshipped by so many because of the incredibly honest art they produced. They made music that changed people - for the better.
But, we’ve got to ask ourselves. Can one not also produce honest, life-changing music while living a healthy life?
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
The Music Managers Forum hosts workshops on a regular basis where they discuss the importance of addressing mental health issues and in 2017 launched the Music Managers Guide to Mental Health.
On that note, perhaps the answer lies with the artist managers.
Artist managers are the caretakers of the artist. Their job is to come up with a strategy of how they’re going to make their artist stand out from the crowd and make waves in the industry. As the MMF told The Guardian in 2016:
“A good modern music manager protects their client’s emotional, mental and physical state just as passionately as their business interests. It’s a role that can make all the difference for artists who may be struggling with the demands of stardom, along with any other mental health challenges they harbour.”
Training their mindset, like a coach would train their athlete’s mindset should be a crucial part of the process. This could be addressed by hiring a mindset coach, sending the artist to seminars or even proposing books to read.
Then again, artist managers today wear many different hats and perhaps adding on an additional one is too much to ask for. They used to have one job: get the artist signed to a record label. The label will then take care of developing the artist. Today that role also falls onto management. We also need to keep their mental health in mind.
So, perhaps the artists themselves need to take initiative and seek out mindset training? Surely, these types of artists would be an absolute dream to work with for managers, agents and record labels?
Call-To-Action: Asses your habits. Do you give your mental and physical health any weight? If not, what small steps could you do to perhaps move towards a healthier lifestyle?
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