[Seven years ago. Before I booked hotels on the internet.]
Suze Orman was marching through my head again. She was shouting at me. It was making my heart race. Listen to Suze, I told myself. You’re an artist. You’re supposed to be frugal! And yet my heart simply could not take two whole days in another economy hotel with orange and brown bedding, and bathroom floors that made my feet curl inward when I walked on them. (And don’t even get me started on bad lighting.)
It was the morning after a show. I was in northwest Minnesota driving towards Minneapolis. I had two days off before my next show. What to do. Where to stay. The marching Suze Orman told me that Motel 6 would save me at least $90, and she said that that very $90 could be worth FOUR MILLION DOLLARS in 2057! And did I want to pass up on FOUR MILLION DOLLARS? I don’t THINK so!
Thom, my coach who had also become my dear friend, was on the other end of the cell phone. I had called him in a state of panic as my voices duked it out. He was silent. He and I had made an agreement weeks ago. I was no longer allowed to stay in places that scared me or depressed me. He had made me swear that I would take extremely good care of myself while on tour.
But here’s the thing: Every touring musician I knew stayed in bad hotels. None of them ever splurged on great rooms. And none of them ever seemed to want to! Plus, I was scared to spend extra money on myself. The mantra of many artists goes something like this: You’re an artist! You’re lucky to even make a living being an artist! Do you want to throw it away on a hotel?
Thom broke the silence, and sighed. “When you start showing the universe that you’re choosing to take excellent care of yourself, then the universe will respond in kind. You have to trust that and make the first move.” Thom was part executive coach, part actor, part businessman, and part guru. He could deliver his new-thought ideas like he was in a courtroom. No big deal. Do it or don’t do it. But here’s the truth, ma’am.
We got off the phone. Just northwest of Minneapolis, I pulled off in a suburb sprawl area. I saw a hotel called Staybridge Suites. I had never heard of it. “What the hell” I thought, and went in to see about a room.
Rooms were $125 a night. (No way! shouted Suze.) I thanked the front desk clerk and left. But on the way to my car, Thom’s words went through my head. It was noon, and I didn’t want to waste the afternoon trying to save $75. I went back in, put down my credit card, and told the clerk I’d be there for two nights.
When I walked into my room, my heart sang. It was light. It was a suite. There was a free laundry room. And a work out room. I felt safe. And I felt like I could trust myself again. My entire experience shifted in that one decision.
After I had unpacked, I called my office to check in. To my amazement, two performance offers had just come in that hour. Both of them were offers to pay me my highest performance fee, plus travel and expenses.
I called Thom to tell him about it. “See?” he said.
I’ve proven Thom’s theory so many times now that it’s ridiculous to recall all the stories. This was just the first of many to come.
And here’s the lesson: Not only do you teach people how to treat you, but you teach the universe how to treat you as well. The challenge of the self-employed or of the artist is to decide. To decide that taking extremely good care of yourself without an expense account means that you become a better artist (or business owner, or whatever). To decide that you serve the world in a bigger way when your needs are met. To decide before anyone else grants you worldly success what it means to value your time and your work.