Don’t Just Have One Trick Up Your Sleeve, Have Three
Remember what got you here.
I recently returned from a long weekend in Nashville, TN where I caught up with some old friends from college. They both live in California now, so they made the journey out and I drove the four and a half hours to get down there. It’s been a criminally long time since I’ve seen them so we made it happen.
So much is different now, but nothing has changed. It’s hard to explain, but if you get it, then you get it. I won’t go into details, but we laughed a lot.
Nashville calls itself Music City and sure…ok, I get it. There’s a lot of history in Nashville and music is just part of the culture there. It’s in the city’s blood. Its one of the many reasons why I love it there.
Literally every bar had live music, and it all started at 10am. Not a typo. 10am. In the morning. A bar without live music in the corner might as well have lacked a bathroom or oxygen.
We met some great people and had some great conversations.
It was bound to happen
One night, I think it was Saturday night (I’m not sure because every day there was like 3 days long), we were closing out the night at our hotel bar and we met a young woman who kept telling us that she was a great singer. Her boyfriend substantiated her story and kept saying that she was indeed a terrific singer.
We nodded politely and explained that we didn’t doubt she was. It’s a great gift to have a strong singing voice. We thought that would be that and we could move on to the next topic.
She started belting out Patsy Cline’s timeless hit, “Crazy.” Loudly. Unsolicited.
Ok, we get it. No need to prove it but yep, you sound great. Thanks. By my count, you’ve received an appropriate amount of attention for this. Agree?
That’s not how it works
It was suggested that I get up on stage, grab a guitar that wasn’t mine without permission, play a song that I didn’t know, just so she could sing the song she’s already loudly singing — but this time into a microphone.
Hard pass. I explained that that isn’t how performing publicly works.
It took me saying “no” a few more times, of course, as well as some verbal Kung Fu which is good skill to have, by the way. Discussion was over. Bar was closing. Let’s at least humor the idea of going to bed soon and starting again tomorrow.
I got out of it.
But it made me think…
A few years ago, if I was asked to jump up and play a song (by the person who…you know…actually owns the guitar), I would have done it. Probably reluctantly, but yeah…I’ll play a song. Thanks.
But years have gone by and you know what…I have NO idea what song I’d even play if I were asked today. I mean, I wouldn’t even know how to play and sing the simplest song. I’m kind of embarrassed by that.
I discussed this with one of my buddies over breakfast the next morning and decided that I would fix this with one simple rule:
At any given time, always have at least three songs that are ready to go. Songs you know by heart that you could jump up anywhere, in front of anyone, and just flat out kill it.
Why three songs? Well, besides the fact that you’ll definitely be asked for an encore, really, it’s because there are three reasons why I…nay, we…need to do this:
- Be true to yourself. Always know how to do something that you love to do. It’s that simple.
- Be prepared. Not just to avoid an awkward situation, but I mean fully prepared…to get up there and destroy the entire room. Blow people’s minds. Give them the unexpected. Make them say, “holy shit!” out loud in front of their kids. Give them a story to tell later. Don’t prepare to just be ok, be prepared to change the vibe of the whole goddamn place and then sit back and enjoy it.
- Be in control. Don’t ever, ever, ever let circumstance define who you are or how you’ll be perceived. It happens to all of us and we can all agree that it sucks. Be you. All the time.
In business, keeping up with changes is probably the hardest thing to do. In trying to keep up, we often forget what got us in the game in the first place. It’s crazy to think about, but you won’t even know until someone says, “Hey…he plays! Get up there!”
Then….oh shit (gulp).
Keep sharp with changes, but always have some standards to fall back on when you need to. It’s an opportunity not just to be ok at something, but to show people that you are the real deal and much more than they initially assumed.
Now, get up there.
You got this.