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Why do it?

Devin Townsend is difficult to categorize. He is an artist, musician, guitar player, vocalist, song-writer, producer, and business man. He has recorded over twenty albums that fall into the heavy metal genre. I suggest starting with my favorite, Ocean Machine. For his most unique album (that is non-metal and Enya-esque) check out Ghost. And if you're looking for some good ol' heavy metal, check out addicted (warning, it may just blow up your speakers).

I introduce you to Devin because I recently listened listened to episode 43 of the Music Business Facts podcast, which featured (you guessed it), Devin Townsend. It's a great interview that covers Devin's background, ascendance as an artist, and some humbling revelations about the music business. My favorite part of the interview was when Devin answered the question about why do it? What's the goal? I'll paraphrase:

...if your goal is to be better than someone, to beat someone, stop. You're going to fail. There will always be someone who is better. You do it to help someone, to make a statement...

It's an insight with broad implications.

When you decide to commit time to something, ask yourself what your intentions are. Is it to make a lot of money? Is it to beat the person you are competing against? Do your reasons stem from personal insecurities? Are they selfish? If they are, you are likely to fail in your pursuit.

Are you instead doing it for a reason beyond your ego? As Devin stated do you want to help someone? Build something because no one else will, or because you have a insatiable desire to do it? Are you well-intentioned in your goals?

A trivial example is my experience with pickup basketball. In the past I'd play with the intent of being better than who was guarding me. To strive to score the most points on the team. As a result I'd be in a foul mood when things didn't go my way. Today I strive for a mindset that allows me to enjoy the game. To seek out plays that help my teammates. To find beauty in competition.

Whether building a company, pursuing a random sporting activity or hobby, reflect on the reasons you are doing it. You'll find that your likelihood of success is proportionate to the purity of your intentions. If the reasons you pursue something are selfish, reassess. Selfish reasons will not give you the resilience you'll need to persevere when things get hard.

And if you don't have resilience, why do it?