Lisa Robbin Young

The Ground Floor

groundfloor"Dirt and dust - that's where it all begins.  Digging in. Digging in.

You've got to lay a strong foundation before you make it to the ground floor."

- from "The Ground Floor" by Lisa Robbin Young


I'm writing lyrics again. It's been about a year since I've written anything original. Over the past 12 months, I've spent a lot of time working on new arrangements and covers, but nothing original.

And then there's the "day job" (I say that with love). I'm moving away from coaching and training so that I can focus on storytelling through music, performing, and of course writing. That means that my income is shifting, and rather than do the whole "starving artist" routine, I accepted a position with a start-up company that allows me to continue coaching and training in a limited capacity.

Everything happens at the ground floor - or should I say everything is happening at the ground floor - all at once. The pace is brisk. It feels sometimes that if you blink, you might miss something. I am fascinated by the fact that this company and my musical goals both seem to be at the ground floor right now.

For some people (particularly the direct sales arena from whence I've come), the idea of a "ground floor opportunity" comes with a certain level of smarminess: it doesn't feel genuine. It feels insincere, as if there's a hard sell at hand. For me, though, a ground floor venture means you've got a blank slate, a clean canvas, a freshly graded lot upon which you can build your Noble Empire.

Ground Floor = Hard Work

While most people focus on the sexiness of a ground floor opportunity, they ignore the truth that comes with that sexiness: there's a LOT of hard work to be done on the ground floor. Sure, it's fun to be able to say "I was there when..." but the fun only comes after you've put in many hours of effort, laying the groundwork to build the ground floor... and then the rest of the structure that fills out your Noble Empire.

When I was a kid, we couldn't afford to do "fun" things like Disneyland or SpaceCamp, so we were home a lot. We did lots of chores (well, more than I cared to do, anyway). It felt like all we did was work. Eventually, I took a page from the Mary Poppins playbook, and learned to enjoy hard work - well, as best as I can, anyway. It's the only way I've found to get through the grunt work of the ground floor. There's a lot of stuff as a musician or entrepreneur that you just don't want to do, but it needs to be done. When you're on the ground floor, it usually gets done by you or it doesn't get done at all.

Later, when the high rise is built, and populated with people, there will be folks on the upper floors that never put an ounce of blood, sweat, or tears into the ground work. We can't resent that. Hopefully, they put their work gloves on somewhere else long before they came to you. If they didn't, you can rest knowing that they won't be there for long.

Everyone starts on the ground floor

That's where persistence pays off.  For the truly persistent, you'll keep building momentum on a single project. Yep, it's dirty, hard work at first, and you'll probably get scratched and dented a bit in the process. That's part of the process, silly!

Dad used to say that hard work builds character. It drove me nuts because he always said that when I was at the point of wanting to quit. Maybe he knew what he was doing, though, because invariably, I'd stick with it until I'd done that thing I was working on.

A new feather in my cap. A new lesson learned. I'm smarter and wiser now - and definitely a character. Thanks Dad!

It's your choice to get off the ground floor

Many people, though prefer to stay on the ground floor and move from job site to job site. They've become experts at ground floor work, and masters of the ground floor universe. Problem is, since everyone starts on the ground floor, the supply of ground floor workers outstrips demand. That's why there's so much competition for entry-level work. It doesn't require an advanced skill-set.

Building something beyond the ground floor means learning new skills and taking on responsibilities you might not be qualified for (recording 300 songs anyone?). It doesn't mean working without safety gear, but it does mean taking a few risks. I have a friend who used to work construction on tall buildings, and he could walk on the girders like he was dancing on the floor: smooth and confident. I look up and shudder.

That's a skill set I'm not willing to learn. But then again, there are a lot of people my age and shape who wouldn't even think of trying to learn how to do a backflip, either.

Everyone has a limit to what they're willing to do to get off the ground floor. Once we hit that limit, we move on to the next building project. What if you chose to expand your limit a little more?

Your skill set takes you beyond the ground floor

The more you do to improve it, the higher up you'll go. For me, my day job is teaching me self-discipline, patience, and a little graphic design, as well as people skills, focus, and respect for authority (a life-long journey for me). Some of those skill sets overlap what is happening in my musical world: getting back into a consistent practice schedule requires patience, persistence, and compassion with myself when it doesn't go according to plan.

All of those skills are being honed right now... readying me to get off the ground floor in both these projects. And I can't wait to see the view from the top!

What level are you at? What's your current skill set that needs honing? What are you doing to ascend beyond the ground floor? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or contact me. I love hearing from you!

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