Last year I spent a few months playing in a band. My job was to sing and to play the bass.
Now, I’m not a musician by any stretch of the imagination, but I can carry a tune when I sing, and I have a steady rhythm on the bass.
After a few weeks of rehearsal, we had a few songs under our belt and we decided to give the trio a test drive.
We went to a jamsession, which is simply a stage where random musicians can go up and do their best.
Usually, a lot of fun. You end up playing with people you’ve never met, and quite often it turns into an enjoyable show for the musicians and the audience alike.
Obviously, I was nervous. I had not been on a stage for 15 years or more.
But fear is no use until you confront it, so I went up to the stage and slung a bass around my neck.
Duncan, our guitar player, was already on the stage. But just as I got ready to start our first song, he decided to take a break and a beer.
He put down his guitar and left the scene.
I suddenly found myself on stage, grossly inexperienced and largely untrained, with a bunch of total strangers.
Not too bad – I mean most songs are pretty simple. Three to four chords, a steady rhythm – I would sweat a bit but I thought I could handle it.
And then they said: “Let’s play some Bob Marley!”
My heart sank.
I do like me some reggae, but I’ve never played it, not on guitar nor on bass. And reggae is tricky, it has these intricate punctuated rhythms that you have to get just right.
Which I didn’t.
In fact, I think during the entire song I played probably three notes right. For the rest, I was hopelessly and ridiculously inept. I broke the entire song, all by myself.
It was a thoroughly embarrassing experience.
Obviously, Duncan had done this intentionally: he’s a pro player with over 35 years of stage experience and he wanted to see how well I hold out on a stage.
In at the deep end.
Ridiculously embarrassing. Still makes me shudder when I think of it.
Normally, you’d expect that after the experience I would be too embarrassed to get back on stage.
But as I said: Fear is only useful if you confront it.
So when Duncan came up to me a while later and said we should do one of our own songs, I took a massively deep breath and went back on stage.
This time, I knew the song by heart, and I played and sang it acceptably well. Actually, I sang rather well that night, probably quite to the surprise of the audience, who had seen me fail miserably just half an hour early.
In business, you’ll get the same thing happen to you. Maybe your guest post gets no retweets and no comments, or maybe your product launch bombs dramatically.
Perhaps you write a kickass sales page that no one buys from (in which case you’d do well to have me provide a custom critique report for you – details here:
http://martinstellar.com/convert-your-site-into-a-conversion-machine/. (Sorry, I no longer offer this service)
Maybe you get interviewed and spend 20 minutes rambling like an idiot.
Sure has happened to me, all of those.
What matters is the awareness that such experiences are part of life, the good and the bad ones.
In fact, we need things like these to happen to us.
It makes us stronger, it teaches us where to improve. Failures are a part of life, they are not bad.
A failure is only bad if you let it paralyze you. That guy who fell of his horse? He’ll get back on instantly, or he knows he might never ride again.
Whatever experience you have, no matter how badly it hurts or how much it makes you blush: get back in the saddle, carry on, try again, improve, and never ever back down.
You fell on your face, you got slammed, you lost money or reputation?
You just got that much stronger, wiser, and resilient because of it.
Also published on Medium.