Thursday, September 19, 2013

Because I Can

The number of people who doubt themselves astounds me.

I’m talking excessive doubt here, not run of the mill everyday I’m not so sure about this doubt. And along the lines of excessive doubt … people who always, always assume that they can’t.

What a depressing existence to keep schlepping through every day doing the same old thing because it’s what you assume you have to do. Not because it’s something you enjoy or because it’s the right thing to do. (Some might consider things like paying bills and maintaining tax records “have to do” items, but I maintain they’re just the right thing to do. You do actually have a choice, but fines, a lack of electricity, and jail time aren’t especially desirable options.)

A music teacher of mine banned the word “can’t” in her presence. I suppose enough frustrated, whiny students would drive you to that, but it’s a good teaching strategy as well. And a good strategy for life.

You haven’t lived until you’ve played Bach at top volume in a big empty church while practicing for Sunday. Even when Bach is not on the Sunday agenda. Because you can.

I went to Chicago last weekend. Because I can.

I had a regional conference to attend. And one by one my usual circle of traveling companions dropped off the trip for a variety of reasons. I could have expanded the search for a carpool and a hotel room by another circle or two. I could have skipped the conference altogether. But I needed some motivation and an adventure. And I am sure not gonna sit around and wait for that sort of thing to just fall in my lap.

By the grace of God, of course … I make things happen.

Short aside. When people say they can’t afford something, while sometimes that is indeed the case, I often find that they

(a) have other priorities, sometimes whacky priorities
(b) aren’t creative enough
(c) won’t ask for help in being creative
(d) won’t take the time to explore how they might be able to afford it
(e) are so stuck in a rut and so don’t believe in themselves that they assume they can’t.

So Ms. Road Warrior used a combo of frequent flyer miles (but a fraction of what I have) and cash, found a very reasonably priced hotel room at the airport, and rode the L into downtown Chicago.

Have I ever ridden the L before? Nope. New life experience. I did promise my mother I wouldn’t ride the train late at night, so I splurged on a cab at 12:30 in the morning. (Shhhh, no one tell her that I would have cabbed it anyway because I’m well-traveled enough to know that’s the right thing to do.)

And what did I gain from all this?

A sense of accomplishment. Motivation. Inspiration. Nuggets of information I can put to use. Large amounts of personal attention from some successful business people – mentors of mine who I never see often enough. Large amounts of time with friends, both old and new. A bigger network. Examples to follow. New words to use. New stories to tell. And an unforgettable view from the 95th floor of the Hancock Building.

You are the CEO of your own life.

You are the leading lady (or man) of your own life.

Act like it, people. No excuses.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect

Have you ever felt invisible? Although attracting attention is something I come by naturally, even I have those moments. So I just go with it … rest and recharge, or maybe go meet new people, change something up.

I read an article that says pessimists tend toward inaction. They sit back and wait. Apparently I’m not a pessimist.

What do you come by naturally?

Playing piano is another one of my things. When that 8am on a Sunday sound check comes, I’m not always fully functional. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone said they could see smoke rising as my brain struggles to get started. Give me enough Neuro and I’m always good by the 9am service, though. The ladies in the kitchen can vouch for me that I’m often in there about 8:30 mixing up my bottle of awesome. The brain connecting to the fingers is important, because for me an F#m7 chord is not E-F#-A-C#, it’s this:

That comes via the grace of God and many years of practice. And the ability to jump on stage for second service with no rehearsal and barely a sound check comes from hours of practice with the same group of people. (Not that that happened recently or anything …)

What are you good at? Do you practice it? Should you? Have you practiced it enough?

It’s funny. Being in a “behavior change” business, I sometimes see people trying something new … and then – despite being really good at it – they will quit at the first tiny little bump in the road.

Do I ever hit the wrong note in front of several hundred people? All the time.

Does the worship leader ever throw in an extra chorus? Sure, we just go with it and act like it was planned. We’re professionals. Unpaid, but we’re professionals. And maybe it looks like the PowerPoint guy’s fault. ;-)

Do I ever eat anything unhealthy or eat too much? Yep.

Do I ever blow off a workout that I really ought to do? Yep.

It’s not about being perfect, it’s about getting better. And using the talents and gifts God gave you to help others.

Practice makes perfect. Or close enough.