Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
by Malcolm Gladwell
The primary goal of this book was to expose how prone we are as humans to making snap judgements in our everyday lives. As we come across situations which require a decision to be made or an action to be taken, our brains unconsciously make "snap" judgements which enable us to reach our conclusions more quickly. These judgements are often made in 2 seconds or less.
As you might imagine, snap judgements play a huge role in the music industry and are something that I am trying to understand better and employ in my work as a performing songwriter. When my music is evaluated by a listener who is watching me perform in person, everything -- and I mean everything -- goes into how they perceive my work and grade its quality.
As Gladwell elaborates on in Blink, my appearance will undoubtedly make a huge impression. If I dress like someone would expect a good musician to dress, if my posture reflects confidence and skill, and if the expressions on my face match the lyrics and notes that I am performing, then a listener is far more likely to buy into what I am doing and see me as a legitimate artist. (and probably support me with sales and their social media). All of the aforementioned elements are sized up in the human subconscious in only 2 seconds.
Along those same lines, I am learning that first impressions are incredibly powerful and are essentially impossible to break once created. I see this played out in the work that I do to try and expand my brand, for lack of a better word.
When I first started recording music, I had the support of pretty much nobody except my family and closest friends. I was happy to have anyone come to my concerts, and the people who came would almost always be the people who knew me the longest and the best. Little did I know, however, that in those early performances from my high school and early college days, their brains were making snap judgements, or first impressions, of my musical abilities.
When I fast forward to the present, a little over 2 months since Lost Again was released, it seems that a majority of these early supporters haven't checked out my newest work, and almost none of them come to concerts anymore. While it's something that I do lament, if I am honest, I understand now from reading Blink that it's not likely due to malicious intent. It's probably due to the first snap judgements their brains made about my music 5-10 years ago, that perhaps my music wasn't all that great to listen to. And again, those snap judgements aren't likely to ever be broken.
What does this mean for me going forward, and how can you, my reader, employ it to your own benefit? I'd say that we would both be well-served to make each day count. Remember how important and foundational the first interaction with someone new is. Your first two seconds with them can set the foundation for a beautiful relationship, or it could leave you both looking a different direction... forever.