It struck me as I watched Ben Gibbard sing. He wasn’t struggling one bit to get his words out. Every note was flawless, every inflection perfect.

Yes, Ben Gibbard has an incredible voice, but in a very different way than an Aretha Franklin or Freddie Mercury. Ben has his own range. It’s not very big, but he owns it.

Not long ago, I was trying so hard to sing like Ben Gibbard. Just as I had once tried so hard to sing like Dave Grohl, as I had tried so hard to sing like James Hetfield, as I had tried so hard to sing like Billie Joe Armstrong.

But they weren’t in my range.

But I pushed it. I wanted to belt the high notes in Iris. I wanted to scream the emotion in Monkey Wrench.

But they weren’t in my range.

Finally, now having seen a master of his craft stick to his range, I realize I’ve been wasting too much time out of my own.

Your most reliable work will always be within your range. Go just a bit outside of that to show your passion and stretch yourself. But go too far beyond that and you’ll be so strained that ultimately the work will suffer.