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 What the Grammy Winning Guitarist Tak Matsumoto Taught Me About Courage and Success 

In January of 1997, I had the honor and privilege of playing live with Tak Matsumoto in San Diego, California.   He’s a rock legend in Japan and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album “Take Your Pick” with Larry Carlton.  

The Creation of Meeting Tak

Before meeting Tak, I had been playing in a rock band for several years.  We had been playing original music at venues around San Diego for several years.  My intention and belief was that we would become world-class, get a great record deal and focus solely on music as our careers.  Our guitarist at the time didn’t display the dedication I desired, so I decided to let him go.  

At that time, I was reading a book called Affirmations: How to Expand Your Personal Power and Take Back Control of Your Life  by Stuart Wilde.  In it he talks about writing your biggest goal over and over in the affirmative.  So I started to do it every night.  I wrote: “I am a famous musician.” about 10 times before going to bed.  

The Manifestation of That Creation

I don’t recall how many weeks I wrote these affirmations, but I don’t think it was more than a month.  Out of the blue, a friend of my girlfriend at the time said that she knew a guitarist that was ‘popular’ in Japan that might be interested in playing with our band.  I wasn’t sure what ‘popular’ meant to her, but I was open to meeting him and seeing if he was a good fit.  

The date was set and he arrived in the parking lot of our rehearsal studio.  He was friendly and spoke English.  He said, “Just play your originals and I’ll jump in.”  And that he did.  Our drummer, bassist and I were surprised how good Tak was; amazingly good.  

I then found out that my friend’s definition of ‘popular’ was actually ‘ultra famous’.  His band, B’z, was famous, as in ‘selling-out-stadiums-level’ famous.  

He was just visiting San Diego to learn English and take a break from touring and producing.  We spent time rehearsing together and I was thinking, “Man, I wish we could play a concert together.”  Lo and behold a few days later he said, “Let’s play a gig together.”  So it was my mission to organize the gig.  

A Dream Come True

Fast forward a few weeks and we played a sold out show to hundreds of fans, about 90% his, in a gallery/concert space in University Heights, San Diego.  Up to that point, I had never played in front of a packed venue.  It was surreal.  And it was the first time my sister Dana, and my Mom & Dad came to see me play.  Tak had a bad head cold on the day, but being the committed pro that he is, gave his all. 

Tak’s Generosity

Tak is a very kind man.  He generously took me out to dinner at the top sushi restaurant in San Diego with his parents.  I found out that I had previously lived in the very city in Osaka where he had lived.  I love ‘going deep’ with people, because in the depth I find many interesting ‘shared connections’.  

Tak also taught me some amazing things, that in hindsight, were transformative.  

Tak’s Teaching #1: Know You’ve Got It

He expressed that he thought that two of my original songs were great songs.  One that I wrote for my older brother Jim, which was the first song that came to me, soon after my brother died.   That song is called “Jimmy”. You can listen to it here.  The other song was about my Dad, titled “J.C.K.”, which you can watch and listen to here.  

He shared that I had the potential to be a professional musician, but I needed to express more courage in my decisions and develop deeper daily commitment to my singing, songwriting and performance.   

Tak’s Teaching #2: Let Go of Being #1

Tak said, “Bodhi you are #1 in your band right now.  You are the star. Now, if you want to be top-notch, you have to give up being #1 and join a band where you are the least talented member in the band.  And at every rehearsal and every gig, the other members of your band give you brutally honest feedback on where you were missing the mark. This will be painful. AND this will force you to get better fast which is the key to your success.”  

Bodhi’s Fall from Grace

My ego wasn’t ready for ‘letting go of being #1” in my band.  I was too comfortable.  What Tak taught me went in one ear and right out the other.  I was too stuck in fear and pride to truly hear what he said and take action. After he left and went back to Japan, I got caught up in delusion about how I thought he should have helped me more.  I went into passive victim mode for years.

Wisdom Arises

In hindsight, the conversations and experiences I had with Tak were clearly invitations to a greater version of myself.  It took me nearly 25 years to clearly see that.  Now that I see it, another great mentor has appeared in my life.  Through some simple actions I took, he literally came to visit me at my home. He’s a Grand Master Mentor.  And he is inviting me to a greater version of myself in the same way Tak did.  

Transformative growth requires only one decisive second when one commits with all of one’s heart and might.   Previously, it took me 2.5 decades to see it and commit.  This time, I’m ready and committed 100%.  

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  If you would like to connect, please book a 60-minute complimentary call with me.  The power of conversation focused on helping another see their true nature is immense. 

All the best,

Bodhi