We had the good fortune of connecting with Willow Stephens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Willow, what role has risk played in your life or career?
My fear of risk-taking almost kept me from pursuing my career in music. I was on track to be a teacher thinking I’d just fit music into my life here and there. I’m a recovering perfectionist and I love to plan and be in control. An entrepreneurial life as an independent musician was the scariest thing I could imagine. There was a pivotal moment where I realized I was running away from using my greatest gifts–from the one thing that only I can do.
I realized later that playing it “safe” is a risk in and of itself. If I had chosen to shy away from the intended purpose for my life, I would have lost out on so much! Right now the chalkboard in my studio says “Have the courage to go big and fail!” That’s something I’m working on applying to my life and business decisions every day.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think I’ve stood in the way of my own success a lot. To me it seemed selfish and irresponsible to pursue a creative career. Because I was fearful of going for music 100% it prevented me from aiming high, setting a clear goal and pursuing it. I was always hedging my bets. Thinking small so I wasn’t disappointed. 2020 forced me to do a lot of reflecting…live music was shut down, the industry as it had existed before was turned upside down. During that time of self-examination, I realized that I need believe that I have something of great value to offer the world and I’m worthy of succeeding in my field.
I have started asking myself every morning, “What work do I have in front of me that could actually move the needle and take me where I want to go?” I’ve been trying to focus on the important work first to make sure the outside noise and busy work isn’t dictating my course.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Taco trucks, taco trucks, and taco trucks. Just kidding–but only a little.
I live in NE LA. There are lots of hidden hikes and places to get outside. My favorite is Ernest Debs Park. A short little hike with great sunset views of DTLA. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve got to shout out all the music teachers I’ve had along the years. The discipline and skills they gave me show up on a daily basis. The discipline of learning an instrument applies to so much! As adults, it becomes rare for us to try things we have no clue how to do, but I think it’s an essential skill for success in business and creativity. “I can probably figure that out” is SUCH a powerful phrase.
Being a music teacher has been EXTRA challenging throughout the pandemic. Just imagine teaching choir or orchestra over zoom! If you haven’t lately, thank a teacher in your life.
Britt Elexandria Liz Bretz Chris Camargo