Last week, I wrote about my surprising experience at the Princess Di exhibit in Grand Rapids, MI. On exhibit in the last room which was dedicated to her funeral and worldwide memorial were the handwritten notes by Elton John of his re-writing of Candle in the Wind which he performed live at the funeral.
Reading these notes and simultaneously listening to the song being piped into the room, I was reminded of an interview I saw with Sir Elton soon afterward where he was asked how he could possibly have performed such an intimate, moving tribute to such a close, personal friend within arm's reach of her grieving children and family without a single crack in his voice or tear in his eye. His response was that while he was highly emotional that day and carried a great personal burden of grief, at that moment with the entire world watching, he had a very important job to do. It was his personal and professional responsibility to pay a musical tribute to her on behalf of all her friends and, for that matter, on behalf of her admiring public. He said that as a professional musician and entertainer, he had learned the importance of suspending his personal emotions and problems when it came time to do his job which he loved and at which he aspired to be brilliant. He likened it to the professional actresses who play Christine in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Even though they've pretended to sink into that first kiss with Raoul and the Phantom hundreds of times and likely have nights where they were sick of doing it, they are professionals and borne out of their love for their jobs and respect for the price of your ticket they make it seem as though it IS the first time and convey all the requisite feeling needed to convince you of that fantasy reality. Their ability to do that night after night, year after year, is what drives their future opportunities, accolades from peers and audiences, and... their incomes.
He made the distinction that suspending these emotions and personal problems was not the same as ignoring them or not dealing with them in the proper way or time. But that, in his opinion and in his industry, it was the sign of a true professional and artist of the highest caliber to put on your game face, lock into your highest professional self, and be more than ready for Showtime!
Is it not the same in your industry? I'm positive my coaching clients, workshop participants, and audience members aren't that interested in paying me to show up and complain about my flat tire, sick kids, traffic jams, or argument with my spouse. Even though I have had all of those things and more to kick off my work days occasionally, they are hoping for and expecting me to show up motivated, prepared and ready to rock - to be at my professional best. And no doubt, my ability to do that well and consistently dictates my future opportunities, potential income, accolades from peers, and my own personal sense of professional pride.
Do we not all have moments and days when it would be easier to cry or complain about our personal problems than get our professional best on, rise above it, and really show up as a true professional who, out of the love of our jobs and respect for the price of our clients' ticket... are more than ready for SHOWTIME?
This week, remember the words of Elton John and show up your personal best every day.