Overcoming Obstacles and Harnessing Negative Emotions by Joel Harrison

Joel Harrison is one of the first artists to have bridged the worlds of jazz, classical, Americana, and traditions from India and Africa. Born in Washington D.C. the guitarist, composer, arranger, lyricist, vocalist, and songwriter began his search for new sounds in the early 1980’s with stints in Boston and the Bay Area.

Named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2010, Joel has long been recognized as a risk taker, someone who never stands still. Harrison is a two-time winner of the Jazz Composer’s Alliance Composition Competition and has received support and awards from Chamber Music America,

Meet the Composer, the Flagler Cary Trust, NYSCA, New Music USA, and the Jerome Foundation.  He has released 17 CDs since 1995 as a leader and has appeared high up on the “Rising Star” Downbeat Magazine poll for many years.

Podcast Highlights:

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Harnessing Negative Emotions

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The Power of Collaboration and Ego Management

In the No Limits Selling podcast, Joel Harrison, a renowned musician and artist, discusses the dynamics of collaboration in creating something larger than the sum of its parts. He emphasizes the delicate balance between driving forward with personal vision and setting aside ego to acknowledge the need for others to fill in one's weak spots.

This dynamic, he suggests, is evident in many of the greatest songs of our era, which were often written by two-person songwriting teams. Lennon and McCartney, for instance, seemed to fill each other's weak spots with their strengths, creating something better than the sum of their parts. This phenomenon, Harrison argues, can be extremely powerful in both art and business.

Overcoming Obstacles and Harnessing Negative Emotions

Harrison also shares his experiences of overcoming obstacles in his artistic journey. He reveals that artists often grapple with feelings of inadequacy or pointlessness, leading to internal dialogues that can be both agonizing and humorous.

However, he advises artists not to take these moments too seriously. Instead, he suggests using these negative emotions as fuel to work harder and stay more focused. This approach, he believes, can help artists transcend moments of self-doubt and continue their creative pursuits.

The Intersection of Art and Commerce

Harrison further explores the relationship between art and commerce. He acknowledges that the music he creates is non-commercial, with jazz sales being smaller than any other kind of music.

Despite this, he continues to create music out of passion, while also seeking other income streams such as film scores and teaching. He shares his experience of attending the Oscars for a film he scored, describing it as a delightful excursion into another world of fame and riches.

Looking Ahead

As for what's next, Harrison reveals that he has a new movie coming out on HBO titled "Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland". He is also planning a big band recording for jazz and is in the process of finishing a book related to the creative process.


In conclusion, the podcast provides a deep dive into the world of art and music, shedding light on the challenges artists face and the resilience they need to overcome them.

It also highlights the importance of collaboration, the management of ego, and the ability to harness negative emotions for positive outcomes. Finally, it underscores the complex relationship between art and commerce, offering a glimpse into the future projects of Joel Harrison

Questions & Answers

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About the author 

Umar Hameed

Umar Hameed is an expert in changing individual behavior and improving team dynamics. He uses techniques and tools from the world of Applied Neuroscience and NLP to make individuals and organizations more successful. His business savvy and neuroscience combination gives him the unique ability to help salespeople become exceptional. Umar is an international keynote speaker who has done presentations in 16 countries. ✅✅✅He is the author of three books; the latest is Unleash Your Crazy Sexy Brain!


artist, harnessing negative emotions, Joel Harrison

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