The title of this post is my favorite quote by
Goethe Basil King, and the content of the post is from an idol of my youth, Billy Joel, and audacious audience member Michael Pollack who was in the audience at Billy Joel’s talk at Vanderbilt University.
Taking risks is a great thing to do, but you should be absolutely positive you’re up to the task in a situation like this one. In other words, take a calculated risk. Don’t take a risk for risk’s sake. Don’t be “that guy” who asks to sit in with the band and can’t hack it. When you need to take serious musical risks, do it in the practice room. That way, if you fail, you can learn from it in private.
In this clip, when Michael Pollack asked Billy Joel if they could play a tune together, the risk clearly wasn’t whether Michael Pollack could play the tune. The risk was in getting turned down. Take risks, by all means, but take the right ones. What does this mean? I have no idea what it means for you, but I know very well what it means for me. Taking risks is synonymous with knowing your strengths and your limits, and maybe pushing your limits a little bit.