It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘performance’

The Little Person and the Diva

It was a listening silence. Not like the silence you hear when someone is withholding a thought or waiting their turn to speak or being polite, because that is what you do. The amphitheater had 4,000 people generating electrical waves of openness, of anticipation for the next, a silence set to receive.

And I was asked before I went on if I was nervous. Nervous for what? What was there to be nervous about? Well, you know, hejessyenorman1 stammered this and that, there are all these people, millions more viewing on television, an international commemorative event… one would be nervous. But why, and what good would it do, and wouldn’t it ruin it? I’m excited, practiced, prepared and mindful—fully in the moment to give—to claim the stage and fill the listening silence with a full expression of my breath. To sing.

And so it was… I walked upon the stage, with my body taller than I ever remember it being before, as if my head were being lifted high above, into the atmosphere, by the history of all the brilliant ghosts haunting this place. I was standing on the very steps where Socrates stood, and I was as humbled and humanized as I was embodying grandeur and magnificence—a perfect balance formed from this sublime paradox. I sang.

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,

Whose stern impassion’d stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved,

And mercy more than life!

America! America! May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness,

And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam,

Undimmed by human tears!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

 

So, you asked me what was it like to sing like that, to perform for thousands—millions, and to stand on the very slab of marble where Socrates stood and taught? Imagine being a lightning bolt. Imagine the energy you would give forth, the force and power you would have to summon to create a show as spectacular in the sky as lightening, knowing that your performance is restricted only to one part in a single storm. That is what it was like.

So you asked me about my career as a singer? Imagine having to be a lightning bolt countless times, practicing the art of being the best lightning bolt you can be every day of your life, always preparing for a fresh performance, to be prepared for the next storm when you’re called upon, and the storm may be brief or it may last hours, and you may have a small role, or you may be the entire show, and you must be as prepared for each role with the same level of excellence no matter the scale of your appearance. That’s the job of a singer.

You want me to sing? Sing with me:

He´s got the whole world in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,

He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the tiny little baby in His hands,

He´s got the tiny little baby in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got you and me, sister, in His hands,

He´s got you and me, brother, in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He’s got ev’rybody here in His hands.

He’s got ev’rybody here in His hands.

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

 

So, you want to know what I think matters most of all? That humans care about how they treat one another. I am so tired of hearing about how people need to pull themselves up from their bootstraps, when there are too many people who have no boots. As a society we have a responsibility to our sisters and brothers, a responsibility to be compassionate and to lend a hand up, to reach around to your neighbor and ask, “How can I help?” and lend a hand up—no one needs a hand out—they need opportunities, second chances and others believing in them. If only we would learn that it matters most how we treat one another. In fact, it might be the only thing that does matter.

Now, I think it’s time for a little person to go to bed. Oh, one more song? Well, alright. You start singing your favorite, and I’ll join in…

Silent night, holy night!

All is calm, all is bright.

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight.

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night!

Son of God love’s pure light.

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

 

Eat What You Kill

I’ve been working for others about as long as I have been self-employed, and I’ve learned only one thing throughout all this time: value = delivery. I began the bulk of my professional career as a grant writer, and as a grant writer you are charged with paying for yourself, plus. Usually you are required to bring in three times your salary to justify your job. Seeing as how I was never a highly-Screen-Shot-2012-06-13-at-10.40.13-AM1paid grant writer, but I did win many 6-7 figure awards, this wasn’t difficult to accomplish. My jobs have always been secure…

Now that I am a freelancer, however, I’ve noticed that my personal expectations of what I deliver to clients changed a bit. I expected pay for work–competitive pay–pay commensurate with my skills and experience. What’s wrong with that? Work is a deliverable, right? You need writing services: a blog, a book, web copy, a press release, business proposal, a grant, flier, etc. I should get paid for the work I do based on my experience, talent and quality and the value of what I deliver. Right? Not so fast.

“Eat what you kill.” I have been in the land of commissioned sales, of percentages on projects with little cash laid up front but with lots to gain on the back end, based on the overall success of my deliverables. Some people cower at the thought while others thrive with the sense of empowerment to create their own revenue. I am the latter. I like knowing that the cash in my hand is a direct result of the work I have done. In other words, “eat what you kill.” If I bring money in the door, I get more money. In this strategy, my value is directly correlated with the money I generate.

As a writer, that may sound like a strange principal, and arguably it’s not the right strategy for everyone. It’s not the right strategy for every project, either, or for every client. But, over the past few weeks, it has become increasingly clear that this is exactly how I work best. Pay me most not just when I produce, but when what I produce turns a profit or is deemed measurably valuable to you in some meaningful way.

I’ve watched so many employees walk into businesses with a sense of entitlement that made my eyes water from the stench. They had no sense of hustle, no desire to bring efficiencies or ingenuity to the game, and felt no responsibility to add to the immediate bottom line of their workplace. Yet, they felt completely entitled to continue receiving a salary for breathing, whining and taking up space.

I’m not saying that all staff or contract positions need to conform to this philosophy, but I am saying that if you want to be deemed truly valuable, take on an “eat what you kill” mentality. Take risks that force you to deliver in big ways for you to see real pay-offs. Justify your salary by developing systems that save your company money, eliminate waste and redundancies, produce innovative products and services, commit to constantly increasing your performance and the quality of your work, or better yet bring hard cash through the door in the form of contracts, or developing a new customer base. Eat what you kill.

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