In short, the answer is yes. If you haven’t got a clear idea of that to which I refer, I’m following up on my blog of yesterday, in which I shared the fear, anxiety and excitement of performing a guitar/singing performance in front of my co-workers.
So the question some folks asked me in reply to that post was, “So how did it go? I hope there is a follow-up.” And that’s why I start today’s blog by saying that yes things went well and I did overcome this trepidation.
Gayle Draper who is a valued connection of mine picked up in my post that by sharing my story and illustrating the steps to overcoming my own fears, other people and specifically my own clients can transfer my process to overcoming their own fears. Gayle is like that; insightful. And make no mistake, she is spot on in her summation, otherwise it’s just a nice little story.
So to share what happened, I was fortunate first of all to have had the responsibility of teaching a class all morning on learning computer basics. I shared with the class what I’d be doing at lunch time and what I had done to prepare myself leading up to the performance: getting into the empty room to play myself days before, practicing with three women who were singing along with me, and then growing in confidence as a few passers-by over that period remarked how nice we sounded.
The setting was a staff appreciation luncheon, which based on the time of year leading up to Christmas day, would involve some music as entertainment. First up was a colleague of mine who played 5 songs on his accordion. Some we knew, some we didn’t but it was nice to hear his playing and discover his talent in the process. Then it was time for our little quartet to step up.
So there I was sitting with the music in front of me and my guitar on my knees. For some reason I can’t fathom at the moment, I notice the three of these ladies accompanying me are not standing beside me as I’d expect but moved slightly back and behind me. Then it dawned on me that they were having a little bit of doubt themselves and were more comfortable behind me and standing up against the wall. The second thing I immediately noticed was the chatter of co-workers in the room and not the absolute stillness of the room when we had been practicing and no one but us four was in it. That was my clue to play louder than I’d practiced in order to signal we were beginning.
So for the first song, we launched into Silent Night. In no time, the room stilled, all those eyeballs turned our way, and I sunk my eyes onto the music on the table in front of me. Sure I could have looked up along the way and looked directly into what I’d envisioned and hoped would be smiling faces and kind eyes, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to be distracted and miss a line or hit a wrong chord because I couldn’t find the page again, so I kept the eyes focused on the music.
At the end of the song, we got some claps and an assortment of positive comments. Now we moved on to the second song and I acknowledged that I was still breathing and no one had left or appeared to have stuffed napkins in their ears to block out terrible singing or guitar playing. This would be the number where I’d sing solo the John Lennon part of Happy Xmas, and the three of them would be the refrain and chorus sung by Yoko Ono and a choir.
So there I was singing along when something unexpected happened that I had to overcome mid-song. My right heel had been elevated to keep the guitar at the height I wanted and suddenly it was going up and down on its own due to the adrenalin of the moment. So I put the heel flat on the floor, adjusted to the drop in height of the guitar and carried on. That was just weird, but no one knew what had just happened. Odd.
In the end, things worked out great. Apparently some of the staff even started welling up and had started to cry. Really? To provoke an emotional response is more about the song, the lyrics and the meaning of it than the actual performance of it, or were they crying because the sound itself was painful? I’ll choose to believe the prior.
In our workplaces, we get opportunities to step out of our normal comfort zones periodically. It could be heading up a committee, making a speech as someone retires, making a presentation, or leading a training workshop for the first time. That nervous excitement we feel is good for us, keeps us alive and it’s good to stretch ourselves and learn new skills.
In my own situation, were I asked to play some other time, I’ve got one success upon which to build, and everything starts with one small step. Another benefit is that if others see me outside something I’d normally do and risk it all in front of them, maybe they can be motivated to overcome their own challenges and risk a bit too.