This week I saw 2 intertwined parts of my life’s passion take monumental steps forward. To say it’s been a week is an understatement.
As I watched it all unfold, I noticed also how I was showing up in those moments.
Backup singer to lead vocals
Did you actually play the video? C’mon, watch this clip from a 1990s cult classic movie, Empire Records.
See that part where Gina fumbles into being a lead singer, yet just a moment before she seemed quite comfortable as a supporting vocalist? It’s a thing for musicians.
Those first few times where you are the lead and the band supports you is a unique form of stage fright. Not only are you on the stage, with all eyes on you, but also, now you have others to work in unison with.
I see a lot of me in this, sometimes about actual singing, but more often, in the roles I play. I know how the song goes, I know what should come out by which person at specific times, and I also choke a little while I am owning my part.
I enjoying being in the supporting roles, and rarely choke with that. Owning the figurative lead vocals means overcoming things like, who will turn all these ideas into the polished proposal with the right formatting.
I tend to be more of a jam band freestyle ear-playing musician, and that’s great. But to really unblock those 2 initiatives move forward, we need actual procedures and things codified.
In music, it’d be like deciding the style of music, instruments involved, and what key we’re in. We can improv within that. In this case, we are not in a jam band practicing in the garage, we are show-ready with a set list and want to have the best performance ever. That means being in unison as a band, with the rest of the a/v crew, and the give and take with the attendees.
Is it any wonder Gina choked? When you are new to that or out of practice, it’s is normal to hesitate.
Let it out
I am a mediocre drummer. I can do basic things. I am a tiny bit proficient on the bass and guitar. I can add in the harmonies with a violin or mandolin much better, or be a backup vocalist. The great thing is, I am not a soloist. Others are more skilled and will grab those other parts well and know how do make room for each part to shine. Great bands know how to hear each other and yield space for each part.
In the work realm, that actually looks like one person letting a few others riff for a bit and turning it into an actual document. Another person asking exactly the right questions and emphasizing where various things are connected. One person can think a bit more broadly or from a different vantage point and reframe exactly the right things. In all of it, it is calling in the right talent in each area (and first knowing who that is).
But like Gina needed a nudge to assume the lead vocals for a few refrains, I’ve needed it too. I wouldn’t feel so involved or able to even synthesize these thoughts without those who I’ve been working with.
That moment when Berko nudges Gina to take the lead, and she freezes, asking “What?”. She even starts, stops, closes her eyes, and lets it out. That’s right where I am.
For a moment, I need to look inwardly, find that voice, and summon everything I need to do it afraid. Just let it out, while facing my inhibitions. In this moment, everyone is yielding and there is no intimidation pressuring. It’s the moment for my part.
I am grateful for the things we are doing together, for yielding to each other’s strengths, and for the impact this kind of work will have.
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