This Article Originally Published August 1997

by Michael Laskow

It may seem a little corny or clichéd, but I firmly believe that if you want something badly enough, you can and will get it. But to want it isn't enough. You have to want it so badly that you ache to have it.

But, there's a catch—you can't manufacture the kind of "want" that I'm talking about. It's organic and it comes from a place deep inside of you. It comes from your soul. It's the kind of want that creates an obsession. And once you're obsessed, there's absolutely nothing that can get in your way.

Having an obsession is a beautiful thing. Well, as long as it's a healthy obsession. An obsession is a wonderful starting point on your journey to success. It helps you define your goal (notice I said "goal," not goals). An obsession is the fuel, you are the missile, and the goal becomes the target.

"When I was nine years old, I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, and I was hooked. I knew right then and there that I wanted to make records when I grew up. I was hooked, but not obsessed. As I grew older, my focus scattered. I started to think about going to law school.

Then one day it happened. I was standing in a music store when I overheard a delivery guy say he was going to Criteria Studios (which at the time was one of the top studios in the world). I asked if I could go along for the ride—finally, a chance to see what a big-time studio looked like!

While I was there, I overheard the owner say, "We need a new kid to sweep the floors and clean the johns." I jumped out of my chair, waved my arms, and proclaimed to the world, "I'll do it! I'm your guy!!" He was not amused. They briskly escorted me to the front door, and gave me the boot.

Did that stop me? Hell, no. I ached to get that job. I had to have it, and there was no way that I wasn't going to get it. I called the owner five times a day for five days straight until he finally took my call. "If I interview you for this job and you don't get it, do you swear you'll never call here again as long as you live?!" he said. I swore. I interviewed. I got the job because my obsession with getting it made me act in a persistent manner until I got what I wanted.

I felt the same kind of obsession years later when I started TAXI. I couldn't do anything but think about and work on TAXI. I worked six or seven days a week. I worked 16 to 18 hours a day. I rarely watched TV. I had no social life. I didn't hang out. I didn't relax. Not for a minute. Probably not healthy, but I succeeded. And you know what? It didn't really even feel like work.

Am I telling you that you need to quit your day job, shun your family and friends, and work at your music 18 hours a day? No, although in a perfect world, that would be great. Well, at least the 18 hours a day part.

What I'm telling you is that you'll never get what you want by merely wishing or hoping. Those might be good starting points, but you need to clearly define your goal, and then you have to plan how you're going to get it.

Then, you have to take daily action on your plan. You can't just sit back and say to yourself, "Gosh, I'd give anything to make a living with my music." If it were that easy, everybody would be a rock star. You have to chip away at it a little everyday. Even better, bite off a good sized chunk every day. Be consistent. Take daily action on your plan, and you'll be way ahead of the pack.

They say (whoever "they" are), that adversity is a test of faith, and the more your faith is tested, the stronger it becomes. Yeah, sure, I buy that, but there's more to it. Don't confuse adversity with "paying your dues," or faith with hope. Success comes as a result of all of those things, but it comes quickest to those who purposefully and systematically put one foot in front of the other and get the job done.

I've known a lot of people in my twenty some years in the music business who feel that they should have a deal or be making big bucks because they've "been doing it for a long time." Ask them what they want, and they answer, "You know man. A deal—anything."

Now there's a plan. How do they expect to achieve what they haven't even defined? Drifting through life without taking aim at a specific target is the surest road to failure I know.

The right answer would be something like, " I'd like to learn how to write Country songs like Nashville's best writers, then start systematically pitching them until I find one that gets some attention. Then I'll make a list of all the artists who might cut that type of song and work diligently each day to get it into their hands."

Another example of a good plan might be, "Our band is going to book a series of club dates within a fifty mile radius of where we live. After we've played those clubs enough times to develop a fan base, we'll keep expanding the radius and keep building our fan base until record companies begin to seek us out."

It makes sense doesn't it? The plan: Want it. Obsess over it. Picture it. Plan it. Execute it. Succeed at it. Enjoy it!