I hate it when I don’t take my own advice.
Last week my husband and I went to hear my friend Tom play jazz at Equus Restaurant in Santa Rosa. Tom plays bass in my jazz trio, but this night he was playing with his own trio made up of pianist, John Simon, and a drummer whose first name is Paul. I didn’t catch his last name.
As we were sitting there, listening, sipping Zinfandel and contemplating the menu, Tom asked me if I wanted to sit in and sing a few tunes. An invitation to sing! My favorite thing. So, of course, I said yes. I didn’t have my own music but this group knew "I Get A Kick Out of You" so we swung it in C major.
Great! Fabulous. What fun.
Well, then Tom asked me to come up and sing again in the second set. Sure, you betcha. As the pianist launched into "Skylark", I couldn’t really hear my first note from his introduction but I just opened my mouth and took a guess. A wrong guess. I started wrong, but quickly found my way to the right pitch, and the rest of the song went beautifully.
Ah, but that first note! The very first one! To screw that up. Ugh!
I went on to sing a very fun duet with Tom, which we had never done before, and it was great. The crowd loved it. My husband loved it. But I was back in the past, mulling over my previous mistake. Damn, that first note of Skylark.
In fact, I couldn’t let it go all night. Driving home. Going to bed. Even getting up the next day. That mistake haunted me.
Now, if you were me, and that had happened to you, I would be squawking at you, saying, "Damn, girl, one bad note? How many other notes did you sing that were perfect? What about how well you sang all night? What about all the heart and sound you put into every song you sang? How about how quickly you recovered and went on to nail that tune? What about all the nights you’ve sung that song perfectly?"
And I would be saying all this because the best thing to do after any performance or speech is to take a long inventory of all the things that went well, all the things you loved, all the things you would want to do again in that performance experience. Then, only after you’ve appreciated what went well, take note of what you want to change, what you would have done differently, then sit and recreate that experience in your mind, except this time you get to have it exactly the way you want it to go.
For instance, if I were following my own advice, I would allow myself to relive all the songs that I sang well, be in that joy and appreciation for the music, for the band, for the opportunity to sing, AND I would see and feel myself being fully present when that introduction to Skylark starts playing, hearing it clearly and then nailing that first note and the rest of the song. Ah, fabulous!
When you do this after every performance or speech, you pre-pave the way for the next experience to be all the more wonderful and satisfying. You reinforce and give energy to what you do want, rather then empower what you don’t want. You connect to your confidence, your capacity, and your greatness, rather than your doubt, worry and fear.
By constantly kicking myself in the head for that one clinker of a note, I was reinforcing that old, ancient and really stupid belief that if you beat yourself up about what went wrong, you’ll "learn your lesson" and be less likely to repeat your mistakes. Gadzooks. Remnants of my parental upbringing.
Which brings me to another gem from my parents, "Don’t do as I do, do as I say."
Now, that one you should take to heart.