PLAYING SMALL (Read time 0:51) I know a guy who has a product that could revolutionize guitar playing. I’m blown away with this product. It’s a simple, jaw dropping invention that any “pro” guitar player would want. And he’s already manufactured a few thousand units. However, he doesn't want big investors and is not interested in taking it global. “Huh?” I’m sure that YOU or someone you know, has a project, or is so talented that they could easily soar to the moon! But for some reason they continue to play small. My good friend, Dr. Jim Gottfurcht (Psychology Of Money), calls it “poverty thinking.” He says even though a talented artist or a brilliant entrepreneur may have everything it takes to be very successful, they still choose to remain in a small arena.Why do Artist & Treps play small? Because “Doubt” overrides every choice and “Fear” clouds intelligent thinking:- Fear of getting ripped off.- Doubtful that they could ever make it to the “biggs.”- Fear that others will find out the truth.- Doubtful that anyone will pay “big bucks” for what they do.- Fear of failing, especially in front of friends & family.- Doubtful that they could keep up the charade.- Fear of being confronted or challenged.- Doubtful they could handle the responsibility of “success.” Did I leave anything out?
J Michael Dolan

PLAYING SMALL (Read time 0:51)

I know a guy who has a product that could revolutionize guitar playing. I’m blown away with this product. It’s a simple, jaw dropping invention that any “pro” guitar player would want. And he’s already manufactured a few thousand units. However, he doesn't want big investors and is not interested in taking it global. “Huh?”

I’m sure that YOU or someone you know, has a project, or is so talented that they could easily soar to the moon! But for some reason they continue to play small. My good friend, Dr. Jim Gottfurcht (Psychology Of Money), calls it “poverty thinking.” He says even though a talented artist or a brilliant entrepreneur may have everything it takes to be very successful, they still choose to remain in a small arena.

Why do Artist & Treps play small? Because “Doubt” overrides every choice and “Fear” clouds intelligent thinking:
- Fear of getting ripped off.
- Doubtful that they could ever make it to the “biggs.”
- Fear that others will find out the truth.
- Doubtful that anyone will pay “big bucks” for what they do.
- Fear of failing, especially in front of friends & family.
- Doubtful that they could keep up the charade.
- Fear of being confronted or challenged.
- Doubtful they could handle the responsibility of “success.”

Did I leave anything out?


Posted By Kirby Martzall
Intentional About Contribution
Might a person's intention be framed less as- "How big do you want to be?" and more as- "How do you want to be big?" In self, in life, in business, in community, in our world.

Posted By B Graves
Playing Small
I agree with a lot of the commenters... "Big Time" success can come with Big Time stress and responsibility. I prefer to limit my "needs" which leaves me more time to pursue my "passions". Maintaining an "empire" is not one of those :)

Posted By wichampi
forgot my name !
Excuse..that is my comment just posted ! ALSO want to say that Nelson Mandela's quote should be put in the context of his life and values in his country where people have had to and still struggle for a life of human decency . He is not implying the American/Canadian value of 'reach for the top in big money money'etc. Thanks.

Posted By

One is already a very lucky person to be earning money by doing something she or he loves to do. That in itself is true wealth. The moment a money making project/business creates stress and huge discomfort is the critical turning point where one chooses how to spend the rest of one's life. Ruled by money ?Ruled by stress ? Indeed,ruled ? The fisherman in Ryan's story is my role model. We have created a monster called world economy. The Earth is dying. So let's continue to cut the crap and talk real. What can we ,the participants of Michael's blog do in action, as artists , to save what we can of the environment and reverse the ugly devastation that "big time money" has created ? Words are not enough.

Posted By Steve
Being authentic and true to yourself is hugh. If the goal is to offer a product to make money that is a good thing. If the goal is to provide the guitar players (consumer) an alternative to producing great music/art/product at an affordable price, that is successful also. i finf great joy in creating and great joy from others enjoyment of the "small" things comw to me. I am successful in creating and need to be successful in finances to continue creating. Thanks Michael for the challenge of facing and breaking fear.

Posted By Luigi Cappel
Playing Small
Not everyone wants to make it big. I used to sell retail POS systems and one of the first things I learned was that some people did not want to make lots of money, they just wanted a lifestyle for their family that was sufficient. That's not poverty thinking or a fail, just different standards. Most musicians are into the music, not the money. I get the message, but in this case not sure it is the right one.

Posted By teahead
Just wanna do my thing

Sometimes people don't care to 'go large' just because they don't want to deal with all the baggage that comes with that (attorneys, agents, publicists, having to be somewhere they don't want to be, etc.). I don't think there's anything wrong with having a small success that allows you to do what you want to do on your terms, and enables you to live a smaller, more quiet life.

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try, sometines you get what you need." —Mick Jagger

Posted By Donna Morsay
I love how your doctor friend called it "poverty thinking." I guess the opposite of that would be "success thinking" or "prosperity thinking."

Posted By Curtis
Two thoughts.

Entertaining post. It made me think two thoughts 1) There's always something bigger out there but in the end it's always the small things that bring us to our knees. (Big tree small axe; virus etc) 2) Ask yourself who is a worthy judge of success? When you know the answer to that question you'll rarely have to deal with fleeting happiness. Thanks for the opportunity. -Curtis

"Big tree, small ax" i love it! —Michael

Posted By

Well,I don't care personally care if someone wants to " Go Small." I don't care about self doubt, fear of failure or the biggies taking your business. if you choose to make nothing or very little,that's your choice. I'm a prick but i don't care frankly. Have fun. Mark--Somewhere south of Constitution Park.

Posted By Dennis Russell
Happiness First

I don't see how the inventor is acting in fear. Why is success measured by materialism and global influence? It seems to me that people strive to grasp the money, fame, and objects that they believe will make them happy and show the world that they are successful, when contentment and happiness can be found in every moment. BTW-True story: I had a friend who invented the "neck grabber" guitar stand. He held the patent and eventually got involved with a well known company that distributed it. The company cheated him out of his patent and he saw less money than originally promised. My friend committed suicide a few years after, due in large part to depression caused by the legal battle to gain back his own invention.

Good point Dennis. Acting from fear is never worth the stress. Sorry about your friend. —Michael

Posted By joe

well yes michael this time you did leave something out.. what if we just ain't interested? as if making money is the confirmation of dreams and goals achieved - as if it were a goal! some artists actually have contempt for "success" as it means only that art has been compromised.. playing small won the NBA championship last season.. who wants to make it big selling mass appeal items? no true artist in MHO.. I'd be interested to know what this thing is that can revolutionize guitar playing.. why would any pro want it? we already did our practicing lol.. thanks for stirring it up.. i feel like jammin now!

You provoke a good question Joe; Does "playing big" always have to mean making more money? —Michael


Posted By Tony De La rosa
No, you didn't leave anything out.
Great post. I wonder, what is it that makes a person crossover that threshold of fear? In this example, it's the perfect opportunity to look the fear in the eye, kick it in the teeth and push through it to something that could be incredibly successful. No, success isn't guaranteed, but without pushing past the fear and doubt, failure of this great product certainly is. And yes, I'm guilty of the same self inflicted fear and doubt, but each time I do manage to push through it, it gets a little bit easier.

Posted By Nancy Nevins
Playing Small

Playing Big is tough on the soul.

Do you really think so? I think the soul wants to play HUGE!  At least mine does! —Michael

Posted By Adrian
Always try
Just gotta always try. I've been trying to reach for bigger and more for years now...and it slowly pays off. I may never make it huge, but all my efforts from the past 20 years in the music biz have gotten me to a place where I am much better off, but I always am striving for the next level. I don't know if I will ever stop trying!

Posted By Vernon
Small is safe
Psychological security in believing you are safe in a small comfort zone.

Posted By Rachel
The bend in the road...
Hello everybody...I suppose I shouldn't say so..but I am kindof down today. Perhaps it's the bend in the road. I cannot see...perhaps it's just me..being tired. But today, I am sad. I just cannot see today. I want to say though, I love you all very much. You are all so wonderful. And Michael, such a source of joy for me. Rachel

Posted By Fred Vail
Fear or self-doubt

Michael, I know what you mean by "playing it small." It's certainly not my personal style but having been in 'radio & records' since age 12--56 years--I can say I've seen this scenario far more often than you might expect. One was a major 'star' of the 70's-80's who's career had peaked--even though it had been enormously successfull--Gold and Platinum albums, #1 & Top 10 singles. The artist was perfectly suited to go from pop to country but passed it up because of what I truly believe was the chance of failing. Two other singers, great songwriters to boot, were simply too hung up on the security of their 'day job' & would not take that leap of faith. They weren't hungry enough & we all lost out on some great music.

No biz like show biz! —Michael

Posted By Ryan

“Then what?” he asked. “Then you could retire,” the American said, “and move to a small coastal village where you can take a day off, sleep in and play with your kids. Take a siesta with your wife and stroll into the village in the evening … have dinner and play guitar …“ The fisherman thought for a second. Then he smiled. “But isn’t that what I’m doing now?”

I love that story Ryan! Sorry it didn't post in order. —Michael

Posted By Ryan
The businessman replied, “You should spend more time fishing, catch more fish and then buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger fishing vessel you can buy several boats and hire extra staff to fish for you. Eventually, you will have a fishing fleet and a huge staff. At that point, instead of selling to the middleman, you’ll be able to sell directly to the processor. That will mean more money and more capital. “Then guess what?” the business man continued excitedly, “Eventually you can open your own cannery and soon you’ll be able to control the market. You’ll be a millionaire!” “A millionaire?” the humble fisherman asked, more shocked than convinced. “How long will this take?” “About 15 to 20 years!”

Posted By Ryan
Part 2
“Then why,” the American asked, “didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The fisherman replied, “I catch enough for my family’s needs.” Then the American said, “Well, what do you do with the rest of your time?” The fisherman said, “Sometimes I take a day off and I sleep in and play with my children. I like to take a siesta with my wife. Each evening I stroll into the village where we have dinner and I play guitar with my amigos.” The American scoffed! He said, “I have an MBA in business and I could help you!” The fisherman said, “You can help me?” “Yes, I can really help you!” “What do you mean?”

Posted By Ryan
On the other hand...
I love reading your articles, this one included because it's meant to motivate and inspire. It also reminded me of this story of regardless of how big or small, keep in mind your end goal. PART 1:There once was a man from a Mexican village who owned a small fishing boat. An American businessman arrived in that same, small coastal Mexican village, and happened to be standing at that same, small pier where a small boat with a lone fisherman docked. There at the small pier the American met the fisherman. Inside the boat were several large, yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the quality of the fish and asked the fisherman, “How long did it take you to catch them?” The fisherman replied, “Only a little while.”

Posted By SomeDaySage
Michael... always insightful and just what I needed this morning. Best to you and keep it up! Mike.

Posted By Cowboy Surfer
The Real Deal
Paul Rodgers from Free and Bad Company? You are a great singer and your son is a great guitar player! To quote another great guitar player "Joe Walsh", "But seriously folks!" Get over yourself and quit your whining! Whatever you decide to do is okay. There is no mandate on how far you have to take your talents. It's entirely up to you. The real deal is how amazingly lucky we are to live in a time where we can listen to the wisdom of amazing human beings like Nelson Mandela! He is a great man who sees life through the eyes of genius and truly inspires those who do aspire to greatness....

Posted By Richard Frank
Everyone has fear except "God." But "God" is in every one of us. Interesting isn't it? Meditate on that. Just take deep breaths and you'll move through the fear. Satnam.

Posted By gary stephens

I think the biggest problem is that "little voice" that sits on the shoulder of almost every human that always tells us the things that we CAN'T do. This little voice is so smart, for it knows you just as good as you know yourself. It's probably responsible for 98% of most people failing or not even wanting to take a chance to defy the voice as if like a security blanket. It tells you to go to sleep, smoke a joint, or go to the bar or simply stop thinking about that nonsense as if dictating your life. Most people never overcome the power of that "little voice". But when you eventually identify it, even if it takes almost a lifetime....THEN will you become free and the tears of emancipation will run down your face.

Thanks Gary, very wise words indeed. —Michael

Posted By Taylor Revetti
Comfort zone
I played small and succeeded. I am comfortable, having beaten failure. However, comfort and the “win” of success have kept me in a “safe” place, away from playing bigger.

Posted By Beth Marcus
Soul Searching
Someone said awareness is the first step. I’m going to revisit my fears and doubts, which are the obstacles to my dreams.

Posted By Ronnie Basha
I have to admit I am stuck. True, I am playing small. But I love my lifestyle and have FEARS of playing so big that I’ll be too busy to enjoy my life Balance. Can I play big and still have time for a personal life?

Posted By Paul Rodgers
I know a very famous producer who also is a friend and mentor of mine. He, too, lives in Self-Doubt and fear of failure, which prevents him from playing even bigger. It surprises me and encourages me to keep on going and not get stuck in the drek of fear and doubt, which are truly dark illusions.

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• SILENCE OF CHAMPIONS (Read time 1:13)
• WHY IT’S NOT WORKING (Read time 0:31)
• THE BUCK STOPS HERE (Read time 0:51)
• WE ALREADY TRIED THAT (Read Time 0:29)
• CHOOSE ONE (Read time 1:09)
• LEGWORK (Read time 0:15)
• ARTISTS vs. ENTREPRENEURS (Read time 1:03)
• 5-YEAR SURPRISE! (Read time 0:43)
• MID-YEAR TO DO LIST (Read time 0:53)
• ALL IN (Read time 0:33)
• WHAT IF NOTHING CHANGES? (Read time 0:21)
• WADDA JACKASS! (Read time 1:07)
• WHAT ARE U SO AFRAID OF? (Read time 0:57)
• DON’T THINK! (Read time :31)
• Why incumbents rarely invent the future (Read time 1:13)
• THE BOX (Read time 0:33)
• STAND UP IN THE BOAT! (Read time 0:27)
• YOU’RE DREAM’N! (Read time 0:57)
• KNOWING (Read time 0:33)
• CONCEALED CONCERNS (Read time 0:47)
• TAMING THE $$$ BEAST (Read time 1:17)
• FAKING IT (Read time 0:17)
• STAYING POWER (Read time 0:47)
• 0:20 SECONDS OF INSANE COURAGE (Read time 0:51)
• GRASS (Read time 0:41)
• I'LL DO ANYTHING BUT THAT! (Read time 0:47)
• ASS ON THE LINE (Read time 1:37)
• MARKETING BLUES (Read time 0:47)
• THE LONG RUN (Read time 0:39)
• THE RACER'S EDGE (Read time 0:41)
• NO WAY NO HOW! (Read time 0:27)
• THE SMART MONEY (Read time 0:25)
• YOU’RE CRAZY! (Read time 1:19)
• NO DOUBT (Read time 1:17)

2011 Posts:
• DEAR PRUDENCE (read time :43)
• COMPLAIN ALL YOU WANT! (read time :23)
• IMAGINE (read time :57)
• WEEKENDS (read time :33)
• PIXAR LETTER (read time 1:03)
• RESISTANCE CAN KILL (read time 1:37)
• AMATEURS vs. PROS (read time :57)
• REQUIEM FOR A HONEYMOON (read time 1:09)
• CAN YOU FEEL IT? (read time 1:47)
• BRANCUSI'S VICTORY CRY  (read time :57)
• SAIL AWAY (read time :43)
• ARTISTS RULE! (read time 1:23)
• USE IT OR LOSE IT (read time :53)
• START HERE (read time 1:27)
• UNCERTAINTY (read time 1:19)
• STOPPED BY CALAMITY (read time 1:37)
• ART (read time :57)
• AUDACIOUS & UNSTOPPABLE (read time 2:37)
• WRITERS BLOCK (read time 1:47)
• BLOW AWAY DISTRACTIONS (read time :31)
• GOOD BYE LADY LUCK (read time 1:53)
• DEADLINE OR DIE! (read time 1:53)
• THE WIZARDS CLOCK (Read time :47)
• CREATIVE PRIVACY (read time :43)
• THE KOBE IN ME (read time 1:13)
• READY, SET, GO! (read time :47)
• EVE OF DISTRACTION (read time 1:29)
• KEEP YOUR FEET UP! (read time 1:09)
• JUST ONE MORE FOOT (read time 1:57)
• MY MUSE DOESN'T CARE (read time :39)
• MISUNDERSTOOD (read time 1:19)
• DUMP IT! (read time 1:19)
• IS IT WORTH IT? (read time :49)
• THE 24 HOUR RULE (read time 2:21)
• MONK ON THE MOUNTIAN (read time: a lifetime)
• “IT” (read time 1:37)
• BORN TO SHOW (read time 3:37)
• THE STING OF REJECTION (read time 1:13)
• LESSON FROM A ROCK STAR (Read time 0:27)
• THUMB POWER (read time 1:59)
• EXPOSING THE WIZARD (read time (1:13)
• HEY, WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA? (read time 1:37)
• THE WAITING WARRIOR (Read time 0:41)
• PLAY AT YOUR OWN RISK (read time :57 sec)
• AUTONOMY HIGHWAY (read time :35 sec)
• LIMPIDITY (read time :45 sec)
• WHY I MEDITATE (read time 1:00 min)
• YOUR SHADOW AGENDA (Read time 0:59)
• WHY I SOLD MY BUSINESS (read time 6:33)
• BARENAKED PROBITY (read time 1:47 min)
• THE FANTASIES OF POSSIBILITY (read time 4:17 min)
• THE TUG OF WAR (read time 5:09 min)