David and Goliath
One of my coaches in college told us the story of David and Goliath a few days before we were playing a really good team. I'll summarize the version he told me in my own words:
There were two armies facing each other across a valley. One side sent out Goliath, a massive, brutal soldier. They called across to the other side and told them, "Send out your strongest, best soldier. If you beat Goliath, we will leave. If not, you surrender and we conquer your city." The army stalled; they didn't know what to do. Everyone was terrified. People in town kept saying that Goliath was too powerful and deadly. Eventually, out in the hills, a young shepherd named David caught wind of what was happening in his city. He didn't like hearing about Goliath. David told himself, "I don't care about Goliath. I don't care how big he is. None of them know about me. They don't know what I've done. When I'm in the woods, and a lion comes and steals my sheep, I chase down the lion and I kill it. I am a lion killer. When a bear comes and tries to eat my sheep, I don't back down. I stand toe to toe and I kill the bear. Goliath should be worried about me. I'm a lion killer." Then David goes out and slays Goliath.
I love this story. I have thought about it many times in my music career. I've had to walk into a packed, rowdy bar on a Saturday night and perform. The people in there are drunk, and yelling out and all staring at me while I set up. It can be daunting. Or the time I took a private party gig on a yacht in San Diego, and I had to get out to the boat on a small dingy with five guys who I'd never met before. They were taunting me, "wow, you don't know where we are taking you. We could be abducting you! Aren't you worried?" Or performing corporate gigs in front of a sea of people. In those situations, I think about everything I've been through with my music career. I think about the time my guitar was stolen while I was loading it onto my moped after a gig. I think about managers that have fired me. I think about scraping by on peanut butter and jelly sandwich to pursue my career. I think about all the hard times I've been through to make this work.
So when I go into a packed bar and I'm about to play, or when a group of random dudes ask me if I'm nervous, I tell them, "ahh... you don't know where I've been. You don't know about me. You don't know how long it's taken me to get here. You should be worried about me! I'm here to slay!"