Don’t Be a Clapper

www.debsofield.com

Recently in an interview session, I asked my client what was the best advice she’d ever received and she replied, “Don’t be a clapper.” What,” I said, “what does that mean”? She said that all her life her parents had told her never to stand on the sideline of life but to jump into whatever opportunity came her way so she wouldn’t be one of the crowd, the audience or those in the stands, enjoying the action but never participating in the thrilling excitement of the game, the sweat and tears of the action.

She said that those sideline people are clappers, and who wants to be a clapper when you could be the one on the receiving end of the applause? She told me that her family believed that she was destined for something great — something more in life than just being a clapper.

I love that thought, because we all know people who just stand around and watch the world go by instead of getting into the middle of the action to be a part of the game, the outcome or the solution.

No doubt we all love to hear the clapping approval of the crowd in their uproarious applause, but let me remind you that approval usually happens when you are part of the action…and not just when you’re in the stands.

I know you’ve heard this advice about getting into the game a lot in your life, and I don’t want to belabor the point, so let me turn it around and ask why you’re not putting yourself out there to be in the game. Why are you choosing to be a clapper?

I’m guessing it comes down to fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the would if’s or perhaps fear of the expected.

I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest that fear is what is holding most people back because it is a whole lot easier to stay out of the action and simply clap along with encouragement than it is by getting into the middle and working for the win.

You and I know that when you’re in the crowd clapping for others it gives you a sense of belonging, of being connected to others or even a sense of security when you are huddled with the masses of humanity clapping along from the outside watching others give their all.

It’s much like a mirror, or so we think. If they can do it, we can do it. Seems easy until you have to actually do something like run up and down the field or stand on the stage or get into the ring. So many people imagine themselves doing those daring and glorious things, but it is a false view since it is not the reality of the situation and it is only in their mind — the image of the glory to run, sing or stand for the adoring crowd.

The difference between the clapper and the others is that only one is actually making something happen and the other one is watching what happens while happily clapping away.

Now there is a theory that encourages people to imagine themselves in the midst of the action with the hopes that one day they might make the action happen since they have “seen” it with their mind’s eye and realize that there is nothing to be afraid of. I am all for whatever it would take to move you from the clapping section to the action seating, so if seeing it in your mind’s eye is the key to success, then keep up your imagination and dream in color.

I have a few friends who tell me that they are not called to do anything that would bring attention to themselves; they love the idea of keeping their humility in check because it is (they assume) proper, or they don’t want to be showy, or some might go so as far to convince themselves that it is saintly to be in the background.

No judgment from me if that is how you want to live your life, but would you consider that you’re not going to contribute much with that mindset of always putting yourself in the stands instead of being a contributing part of the team?

No doubt, every player on the field or singer on the stage dreams of the stands filled with supporters to be the enthusiastically clapping encouragement they need for success, and while that is an important part of the plan, remember, it doesn’t always need to be you clapping for others. Occasionally, we’d like to see you shine.

Without a doubt we’ve become a nation of amateur show-offs. Turn on any social media channel and someone is singing their heart out, or dancing up a storm or even showing you how to make a cake, put on makeup, tune-up your car and a billion other options. Some of these self-marketers are pretty good (I love those videos) and others feel very good about themselves (I don’t love those videos) and still others are…well, to put it nicely, they are trying, so I give them credit for at least doing something. I’ll give a slow clap for their audacity, for their pluck and for their energy, dreams and imaginings to make sure that the show goes on.

Do you know what I admire about those who are trying? I like that they allow the energy of what they want to share with us to come through (whether I like how it sounds or not), because it isn’t about me. It’s about them finding their way to their place on the field or stand, or on the stage in the bright hot spotlight for all to see and cheer and clap in appreciation.

Maybe by now you’re thinking you’ll just stay a clapper for life because you feel you have little to nothing to offer due to your age, education or exhaustion. Well, I beg to differ with you, my friend. You still have much to offer if you’ll step out of the stands and onto the field and let the warmth of the sun and the energy of the applauding audience fill you with power to play the game.

Please hear me, I am not against all clappers; they play a part in the grand scheme of appreciation, but I am not a fan of the clappers who hide behind the fear of the spotlight of hard work and leadership because they choose to be weak.

I am also fully aware that if everyone was always on stage, then who would be left to clap, showing approval?

I think we can all agree that being on a team means that sometimes we switch roles — from stage to clapping or clapping to the stage. This helps us all to understand the position and responsibilities of others.

I sincerely believe that most people, at some point in their life, hope and dream and wish to hear the clap of approval from their family, friends or the crowd because they did something good or at least something good for them that they are proud of. Most people have been to enough events to know the feeling of that tingle of joy in their soul from the excitement of the day. Applause is like a benediction of a job well done. There is always a place for applause (or clappers) but never let that self-satisfaction keep you away from doing the work that is due so that you are rewarded fairly.

Ah, friend, you are lucky if you have heard the approval of applause in your life, and you are blessed to have been a part of something good, honorable or brave.

And if by chance you haven’t heard the clapping sound of approval by others when you’ve done great things, don’t be discouraged; consider the possibility that you be the clapping noisemaker for those who need to hear the sound of applause for their achievements both large and small. Because at the end of the day, caring for those who do the work and give to others, allowing them to shine, is the best life-long gift we can give. And I’m pretty sure that we can all clap for that.

Living vicariously through other people just means you’ll be standing on the shore watching others catch waves your entire life.

Deb Sofield — Speaker — Author — Coach

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