Fearless Performance by Jeff Nelsen

You're good...now what?

I had a big performance this weekend.  I held a 2-day Fearless Performance Workshop here in Bloomington Indiana.  It was the fifth 2-day I've done this year, and participants seemed fulfilled during the final discussion about what we all learned.  I'm very happy with the results. I still want to do better.

So now what?  Continuing on last week's "You're right...now what?" theme...my question now is "You're good...now what?"

One of the fears many people admitted this weekend was their fear that their best wasn't going to be good enough. To address this fear and inspire their work on replacing the fear I shared a recent Seth Godin Blog:

"Doing the best I can

...is actually not the same as, "doing everything I can."

When we tell people we're doing the best we can, we're actually saying, "I'm doing the best I'm comfortable doing."

As you've probably discovered, great work makes us uncomfortable."

I believe when people walk out of their performance without what they wanted...without "success" by whatever definition...two things are to blame.  Either:

1.  What they wanted (their definition of success) was unrealistic.
2.  They didn't do the work they could have to make manifesting a successful performance possible.

or both!

An important learning concept at Fearless Camp is embracing "I am enough." This is huge, and essential to preparing and performing ones best.  We have to love ourselves before we can prepare our best, and reach out to an audience and perform our best.  

"Being enough" is a very different concept from being the most hirable.  When I think "I am enough" I get the gift of belief in myself, and I can let go of destructive doubt.  This helps me in performance.  On the other hand, my fears of being "good enough to be hired" helps me in preparation. Healthy fear of performing great, at anytime but in performance, can help get me off my couch and practicing well! These are discussed in detail in Fearless Performance lectures and events.  I hope this is enough clarity for now.

Having said all that, my idea for this week is, in our work, we too often stop short of our best.  We might get really good, but then maybe we hope that's good enough or that this "good enough" might manifest itself a bit better in performance.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  Here's why:

"Good enough is the enemy of great."

To look at taking our "good enough" to great, let's look at the 2 inhibitors of performance success I listed above.  For #1, when we have unrealistic goals, most often it's because we've chosen a goal like convincing someone to hire us, date us, or think something of us. To these silly goals, I share something from an unexpected source of wisdom...Fashion Television.  There was a model who didn't win a prize she wanted and she was crying and her friend gave her a piece of genius advice.

"You can't control perception.  You can only control presentation."

It is completely unrealistic to walk into a performance with a goal of controlling the audience.  You can't do this...ever!!  Let go of that riiiight now!  (see quote above again if you need further convincing) A much more realistic, and more importantly, attainable goal is to play your Mozart the way you imagine, or do the things you've rehearsed so diligently. When you aim at those performance goals, you have a greater chance of doing so, and THE BONUS is that you end up convincing people of hiring you or thinking whatever things that serve you reaching your goals, etc...

Ok, on to #2.

This one's a biggie...too long for a newsletter.  I remember watching the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance" (LOVE that show!!) and one of the dancers was sent off the show, and they were crying and yelling, "I just don't know what else I can do!!!".  In my cold-yet-caring mind, I thought, "Aaaactually, I bet you do."
I would bet a ton of money that most of us have been supplied with (or been near) massive amounts of learning that we could have picked up better, and more importantly, worked with deeper.  I know I have.  And the fact that I believe I could be doing better with what I already have heard, read, and seen keeps me modest about deciding I have problems, obstacles, or that I'm a victim to things "happening to me". Wow oh wow do I know I could be doing better work tomorrow.  
"I just performed.  Was I perfect?  No.  Ok, what else can I do?"
Instead of wondering which imperfections were bad enough to be heard by the audience, which musical opinion is best, which technical idea will work, or which recording is the ultimate version, take all your potential learning with you and go forward into embracing YOUR favorite and constructive things you've heard this week.  Study, practice, work and make it yours!  Take all that into your next performance or lesson.  Share that, and then invite commentary.  Filter the commentary and keep what you think will get you to your goals.  Then do all that again.  ...and again.
...and again.
You are doing this whether you realize it or not.
When you're upset or frustrated with the process, you are choosing to get in your own way. This IS the process, whether you're upset about it, or embracing it and leveraging it well to get what you want.
Set goals well, and do great work so you can get what you want this week.  So many people are!  And remember...
"Good enough is the enemy of great."
Set great goals, do great work, and be great at constructive self-criticism.
You can do this.

Jeff Nelsen
Jeff Nelsen


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