What John Mayer and a Trip Through the Wilderness can Teach You About Success
The lyrics of “Bigger Than My Body” suggest a song that was likely written before Mayer was a massive success. And yet recently, Mayer’s entire 2012 album Born and Raised is an experimental reflective project that examines a life spent having to stop what you’re doing and take some serious time out to consider where you truly want to be. It’s about healing from old wounds (especially self-inflicted ones).
“Why is it not the time? What is there more to learn? I shed this skin I’ve been tripping in / Never to return.”
And John Mayer should know. Just after the release of his 2009 album Battle Studies, Mayer came under serious media scrutiny when he made several public outbursts. Mayer was defamed as a womanizer, a racist, and just about every other celebrity-killing title.
Recently, Mayer spoke to Rolling Stone Magazine about his new release and about the days following his public unbecomingness. In the interview, Mayer said he really thought his career was over. And in the days that followed, he set out for Montana to start a new life. He also said that he became irrelevant as an artist, and that he needed to become irrelevant.
Sometimes success requires a significant perspective change.
In the book of Exodus in the Torah/Old Testament, when Moses sets the Hebrew slaves free from Egyptian captivity, the story takes on a very different path than we might expect. The freed slaves leave where they are in search of their dream land, but they don’t find it immediately.
In fact, what happens seems to be the very opposite of success. They leave and begin a VERY long trek (40 years) through the Middle-Eastern wilderness. Even while that dream is in their heads of what Paradise will truly look like, their current reality was filled with long hauls without water, sick children, and even insanity making its way through the group.
This isn’t meant to be a Sunday School lesson. But regardless of your religious affiliations, we can’t help but take away something significant here:
If you read on in the Exodus story, we find that the LONG journey actually SHAPED the future of the Israelites. The STORY helped to define who they were by the time they got to their promised land.
Pay Attention to the Lessons of your Shadow Days
In Mayer’s latest single from his Born and Raised album, he writes:
According to the Mayer interview in Rolling Stone, he learned some tough lessons on attitude, entitlement, and the power of the tongue. More than any of that, though, he had a shift in his perspective.
“I’m a good man with a good heart / Had a tough time, had a rough start / But I finally learned to let it go” (Shadow Days)
Maybe you’ve had an experience that shifted your perspective. Maybe it was a fall from grace. Maybe it was an attitude adjustment. Maybe it was the fall of a relationship. Maybe it was the death of a loved one. Or maybe, like me (and I’ll get into my own story later), you walked away from something you were good at and had to realize what you’d left behind.
The lessons may be painful, but they can be healing. And make no mistake, they are setting you up for a success you may not see coming.
What about you?
Have you ever had your own Shadow Days? What did you learn from it? How did it shift your perspective? Write your stories down in the comment section.