This Article Originally Published July 2000

by Michael Laskow

I'm not a huge basketball fan, but I do tend to watch the playoffs most years. Being that I live in Los Angeles, and the Lakers were in the playoffs this year, I watched with more vigor than usual.

As I watched the last semi-final game this year, I couldn't help but notice that it was one thing that ultimately resulted in the Lakers winning their last game against Portland—raw determination. You could see it on the faces of the players. You could see it in their body language. They were NOT going to lose that game. More than anything else in the world, they wanted to go to the finals. And in the final minutes of the game, they turned it around, and they won.

Now, I know you folks in Portland have a fine team that also showed tremendous ability, but in the final analysis, the Lakers were simply more determined to win.

A couple days after that game, I saw a piece on T.V. about an F-15 fighter pilot who had wanted to be a top gun since he was a young boy. He made it all the way to his "finals," but blacked-out when he pulled too many G's on a training flight, and crashed his plane.

He bailed out and somehow, lived through the ordeal. But the force of the super-sonic ejection mangled his legs. His doctors told him that it was highly unlikely that he would ever walk again. They also told him that he would never fly his beloved F-15 again.

His legs were crushed, but not his spirit. With brute determination, he went through intensive rehabilitation, and in a relatively short time was walking again. I had tears in my eyes as I watched the video of him walking down the aisle at his wedding a year later. He had lived through some grueling pain, and beaten unbelievable odds, but he didn't stop there.

He continued his rehabilitation, and again, after a relatively short amount of time, his doctors told him that his once-mangled legs were completely healed and one hundred-percent functional. In their opinion, he was healthy enough to fly again.

He made his case before a military review board, and for the first time in history, they allowed a once-severely injured pilot to return to active duty. He finished the last phase of his training, and is now one of America's top-guns. Wow!

A ten year old girl who became a quadriplegic after being hit by a car, grew up, and despite her physical limitations, graduated from Harvard this year. How's that for an incredible show of determination?

I'm sure each of you reading this have heard many such stories throughout your respective lifetimes. They're inspiring because they teach us that all of us have that determination inside of us. It's just a matter of finding it, and making it work for us.

I didn't find out what level of determination I was capable of until I started TAXI. Actually, it was probably more fear of failure that kept me going in the very early days, but utter determination is the reason I ultimately succeeded. I took many hard, long looks at my life and decided that this was the time that I was going to go the entire distance, no matter how high the obstacles were.

Those words sound good on paper, but you'll know what I mean when you've found the strength to really live by them. You'll feel a little bit like the guy with three bullets in him, but still charging up the hill and lobbing the grenade in to the bunker (Audie Murphy for those of you who are old enough to remember).

So, where's your determination? How badly do you want to succeed in the music business? I can tell you from my own experience that wanting something pretty badly, isn't good enough. You can't realistically expect to be a hobbyist, and reap a professional's reward.

But when you see your goal clearly, you'll find it to be almost enjoyable to bear the pain that accompanies determination. Take a minute . . . no, take a week or so, and figure out what your goal is. Be realistic. If you're over forty, balding, and trying to get rid of your pot-belly, then maybe it's time to realize that it's extremely unlikely that you're not going to be the next Enrique Iglesias.

Maybe a realistic goal for you to set is to make $100,000 a year writing instrumental music for TV. You know, those little stingers and wrap arounds going in and out of shows and news broadcasts. You don't have to be the world's best composer, so much as somebody who is very determined to get your music in the hands of the people who make the decisions.

What if you write Country songs? What's a realistic goal? Getting a song cut by a major artist within two years sounds good. How do you get there? By being determined. Instead of starting out strong, and letting your passion diminish with time, if you find true determination within yourself, you'll work harder as time goes by. You'll start to see that you're actually moving toward your goal.

Soon, the head of steam you've built up, will seem to have a life of its own. You'll become unstoppable. You'll begin to get the feeling that achieving your goal is inevitable, and that will feed your determination. I've gone through all these phases, and let me tell you, it's an incredible sensation.

Before you know it, you'll become like the Lakers, or the pilot, or maybe the girl who graduated from Harvard. Better yet, you'll become what you've always wanted to be—successful on your terms. Only the love of your children is sweeter than that.

You can do it. Each and every one of you can do it. I'm sure of it. Make the commitment today. Talk to yourself about it every chance you get. Tell your family and friends about it. The more people who know about your quest, the less likely you will be to stop before you reach your goal. You only get one life. Don't get to the end wondering what you could have accomplished. I hope you can join me someday in looking back and being proud of what you've done with your life. Go get 'em!