When I was growing up in Ireland, we had to take what was called the Beep Test in physical education. We'd start at one end of the gymnasium and have to run to the other end before the beep rang out.
After 10 rounds the beep got faster and faster. People who were unfit would drop off. It became a competition among the best athletes, who would eventually get picked for the skilled sports.
I did anything I could to avoid the Beep Test. As a teen, I was overweight and unfit. I was the kid you'd find sitting in the bleachers writing songs instead of playing football.
Eventually, I got tired of the humiliation. I realized I had to pay attention to life's feedback. I started eating better and exercising more. I saw that building my physical stamina would not only help me make it through the Beep Test but perform better on stage, too. I now work out with a personal trainer. When he put me through an aerobic test recently, I aced it.
My experience with the Beep Test, dreadful as it was, shaped the approach I take to my career as a musician. Recently, I have signed a publishing deal with multi-Grammy Award-winning producer Robert Cutarella, and I've released singles like "Say Something," which made it to the top 20 on the Billboard charts. I've realized I can't focus only on my music, much as I would love to do that. I've got to perform in other areas of my life — and running my business as a creative professional is an important one.
For me, thriving in a hugely competitive creative field requires me to use a three-pronged approach. It's one that I believe will help many independent creative professionals succeed as entrepreneurs. Here is what it takes.