Thursday, August 27, 2015


How much does being popular matter to you?

There's popularity on-stage, which can be from putting out more ki than others, having a natural smile, playing effortlessly, being entertaining, etc.  And without context, there's nothing wrong with it.

And then there's popularity off-stage, which is more about recognition.  Things like starting a new group, writing a song for public domain, leading workshops, launching a new initiative, heading up an organization, etc.  Again, without context, there's nothing wrong with that, either.

I'm sure as you read the examples, you thought of both positive and negative aspects, right?  I'll get back to that in a minute.

We all have an ego, and sometimes it's really nice to be acknowledged.  Maybe it's for talent, or for effort, or impact, but it's still nice!

What decisions do you make for the sake of popularity?  Do you feel less accomplished, less talented, without recognition?  Do you feel the need to go out of your way to make sure people see what you've done?

Let's say someone starts their own taiko group because they want to be "popular".  Is that bad?  Let's say they do it for so-called selfish reasons.  What if the group turns out to be really talented, entertaining, and/or have positive impact?  If the intention is "bad" but the outcome is "good", where do you stand?

So, I said I'd get back to the earlier examples.  When you read them, your opinions of them are shaped by your personal experiences.  Maybe you've met people who try too hard to "be entertaining", and you have a negative association with that.  Maybe you've met people who've written public domain pieces and you had an amazing impression of them.

When you do things for popularity, it's not just about how you put your message out there.  It's not just a one-way street.  It's also about how your message is perceived.  The bigger your broadcast, the bigger your audience, and the more likely you are to have a negative impression on people.  Granted, it's less likely if your message is "free taiko lessons for everyone!" but someone out there might be thinking "you're only doing that because you want to be liked."  And rarely is the message that altruistic to begin with.

I realize the irony of talking about this as I have a long-running blog and teach workshops at conferences.  As I've said before, the blog is for me to get my thoughts organized but I really love when people find it useful.  The workshops are a way for me to better myself as a teacher and I love when I can help people get better.  I know where my intentions lie and that counts for a lot.

So it's not that wanting to be popular is bad, but sometimes "making" oneself popular has the opposite effect.  Would you rather put your energies into being popular or being skilled?

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