The AMAZING singer-songwriter Sarah Miles (http://www.sarahmilesmusic.com) performed at Harford Community College this past semester. When I asked her about her confidence on stage and how she has come to perform in front of audiences across the country, she shared with me this story:
When I was only three years old, my mom and dad recognized that I had a gift for singing. They exposed to me lots of music and had me audition for a local children’s choir where I sang in a large group, with no particular spotlight on me. By the time I was in high school, I knew music was my passion. I taught myself to play the guitar and I started writing music. I locked myself in my room for hours just playing, singing and writing. The only problem was that I was terrified of performing in front of anyone….including my own grandparents. I would cringe when my mom would say, “play one of your new songs for grandpa”. With my mother’s encouragement, I worked hard on overcoming my stage fright. I pushed myself, by playing in small coffee houses and by joining an a cappella group in college where we performed all over the country. Overcoming my fear of performing in front of an audience has been a long journey. I actually felt ill with nervousness before each show. I found the reward came during and after the show, where I felt a sense of exhilaration. The fear before each show was worth the end result. I finally realized that I loved performing; it just took time, experience and gained confidence to be able to do it. Now, as a professional singer-songwriter and hundreds of shows under my belt, I feel much less nervous before shows. My advice to people who suffer from nervousness when public speaking or performing; is to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself. It really does get easier with time. Just do it!”
This is great advice I received upend graduating college. One of my lacrosse teammate’s Father had this to say:
1.) Treat people better than you wish to be treated
2.) Never compromise your character and integrity
3.) Trust your visceral sensations; if you have chi, you can trust if somethings feels wrong it is! If something feels right it probably is!
4.) Use your intelligence to its capacity; what you are capable of learning, know or find out yourself.
5.) Keep your body as though you will live forever and your soul as though you will die tomorrow!
He then left me with this,“I wish you only the best but it will be the adversity in your life that will test your metal! You are well beyond your years in thinking proactively and I look forward to where you will land. Or will you hoover always looking for new challenges? I think the latter.”
Those last three sentences have puzzled me for the past two years. I finally was able to simplify that statement and make it work for my life. Don’t Be Complacent. If you’re not growing, you’re already dead. Don’t Be Complacent.
In 1984 Richard Branson started Virgin Atlantic with just ONE Plane!
Since Branson lacked the money to compete with British Airways for advertising, he thought “outside the box.” He built a boat called the Virgin Atlantic Challenger in an attempt to break the record for the fastest speed ever across the Atlantic Ocean and build a brand name for his new airline.
Well after three and half days at sea and only 200 miles from the coast of England, the boat broke in two! In an attempt to break a world record and advertise a new airline, the company instead snapped a speed boat in two in the middle of the ocean! Press helicopters were on hand for the record attempt and captured the whole catastrophe while snapping pictures of the sinking boat. In response, Branson released a full page ad with a picture of the sinking boat, which conveniently showed the entire Virgin logo on the side, with the line, “It’s Virgin. Take the plane.” The press generated from the story and the popularity of the ad helped establish Virgin Atlantic as a household name which has help Branson become worth more than $4 billion today and the 4th richest citizen of the UK.
“Trying things-even if you fall flat on you face-is more important than not trying at all,” remarked Branson in Newsweek when asked about the event.
Sometimes the most important thing you can do…is to Do Something! My first internship in college was with the Comptroller of the State of Maryland. This internship granted me incredible access to a very high ranking state official, opportunities to meet many Maryland politicians, and invitations to meetings with the Governor. You know how I got the internship? I walked in the door and said HI! My college has an office called PACE, the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement. I had no idea what they did so I walked in the office and said, “Hi, my name is Bobby, what do you guys do?” An hour later I walked out of the office with a new exciting role on campus and 6 months later I walked into the State Treasury building with an employee badge.
What internship are you missing out on because you are afraid of rejection? What opportunity are you passing up because you are afraid of failing? Could you get your Dream Job just by walking in the door and saying Hi?
Don’t Be Afraid of Failure. Richard Branson never was. He turned his Failure into a Life Changing Success.