WHY THE WORLD SHOULD BE A SPRING SHOWCASE

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Tonight I went to an elementary school spring performance. In addition to singing contemporary favorites such as Uptown Funk, the children from k-4 to third grade also performed some of my favorite classics like Brown bear, Brown bear.

Two things jumped out at me during this show. First, I had all but forgotten that I had attended this very school. Although when I was there it was grades seven and eight, the look had remained virtually unchanged.

The second thing I noticed was the talent of the children. It was amazing. I found myself dancing in my seat. Well, at least as much as I am want to do. Another thing I noticed was that I was in a very good mood. That made me take a break from my legendary chair dancing to sit up and take notice. Every time that I find myself in an extreme of emotion, be it good or bad, positive or negative, I stop and notice what has lead me to that point.

In this case it was a very good mood I found myself in. Was it being back in a place I had been so long ago? Not quite. Days weren’t always rosy in middle school. As we approached the door I pointed out to my lovely lady, Margie, an area where I had indulged in a rather intense physical interaction with another fellow student. “You were in a fight?” she asked incredulously. Anyone who knows me will understand seeing me engage in a physical altercation is a stretch these days. Even though back then it may have not been.

Ruling out the power of nostalgia, I moved on. Being that I was rather sleep deprived, I decided just to relax and really be present for the show. Then somewhere between The hungry caterpillar and I Bought Me a cat, it occurred to me. It was the show itself that was inspiring me. Not just the positive and light-hearted lyrics, but the scene itself. Children were putting their hearts and souls into their performances. They were doing this out of nothing but personal pride and the desire to make their parents proud of them. The parents also made me proud. As children can so often do, when they are supposed to hold up a picture of a bowl of soup during a song, it winds up being in a position that would leave more soup in your lap than in your stomach. Despite this, the parents glowed with pride and cheered for not only their child, but each and every child. They did so knowing the reasons the children were doing it were pure and innocent.

There was a bonus item of joy I noticed it not only filled my heart with a personal sense of joy, but made me proud of the parents and even more so, the students. In each group there were several children who seemed to suffer from some form of challenge mentally. Not only were they allowed to join the other students in the production, which made me proud of the job the teachers did, but as they were often wandering all over the stage involved in what seemed to be their own little show, the students not only remained focused, but often encouraged and embraced these children so different from themselves.

I began to wonder why the world itself is not more like this ‘Spring Showcase’. Imagine if we all worked with a heart filled with joy and a desire to make those closest to us proud of the job we did? What if we encouraged everyone who worked hard, doing the best they could, even if it didn’t turn out perfect and they did hold up the picture of a cupcake instead of string beans. What if we accepted those around us that were different and even invited them to be a part of our world while living the way they were created to? This was an example of the way the world should be. The greater question is how do we carry this behavior into the adult world?

HURRY UP AND FAIL!

In the category of things that never made sense to me, but now have really changed the way I look at the world, I give you failure. Growing up with the guidance of well meaning people around me failure was a word that should attempt to be avoided. You didn’t want to fail because that meant you were no good. It meant you were not a success. As an adult I continued to look at failure in this light. It actually grew to be something I began to fear. I would do everything in my power to make sure I didn’t fail. That sadly included not trying things that were likely to end up in failure, at least at first.

If we look at our lives there are certain things we are naturally good at. I can usually get up and speak or give a toast with little or no problem. If you see me on the dance floor however, something would appear seriously wrong.

We naturally tend to pursue things that we have some basic skill in. For me writing and speaking are two of my more natural skills so I tend to do things that use those skills. Bartending and DJing use my speaking and relating skills. This website and my books use my writing skills (Notice I did not say grammar or editing skills). The reason we do this is our chance of failure is less likely and we naturally excel at them. This gives us a feeling of self confidence and accomplishment. That is great and I believe pursuing things you are passionate about will lead to great success.

That being said, do not let fear of failure stand in your way from exploring new things. Once you learn a new skill as we showed above in can translate into several other options. Realizing this can make enduring the initial failure can be a little easier. Failure is not an end,  but part of the journey. The quicker we do so, the quicker we can move on to developing our skills and becoming more proficient. Here is another little trick I find that works. If you can somehow use a skill you already have to learn a new skill it can make learning a lot less painful and a lot more fun. When I was learning how to become a DJ and my wonderful teacher, who happened to be the patient love of my life, was showing me all of the technical aspects (most of which I am still learning) I leaned heavily on the speaking part of the job because that is what I am naturally good at. It gave me a feeling of competence and a hope that I could one day be a great DJ like she is.

Takeaway today is don’t fear failure, embrace it. Do so quickly, because as soon as you get it out of the way you will be one step closer to success. Now if I could just find a way to link speaking and writing with dancing….