Perform When It’s Showtime
If you have attended a Broadway play, I am sure you enjoyed the experience. The play worked. You left feeling glad . . . or sad . . . or mad . . . or whatever the playwright had in mind when he wrote the play. If you were supposed to cry . . . you cried. If you were supposed to sing . . . you sang.
Based on the caliber of the performance, it could have been opening night, even though you might have seen the 300th performance. Actors know how the Broadway game is played. If theater goers don’t feel they are getting value for their $100 investment (the approximate price of today’s Broadway ticket), they will speak unfavorably about their experience, and the show will close sooner than later. Satisfy the public . . . or else!
Don’t think for a moment that actors don’t experience the same daily challenges as you and I. They get head colds that make them feel like going home early. They have family disputes that make them feel like throwing in the towel. They have cars they want to sell or drive into the East River . . . perhaps with the neighbor in Apartment 26F tightly fastened into the rear seat.
Problems in America play no favorites. They do not exhibit racism or bypass lefties, ex-jocks, the erudite, or the famous. The people on stage have the same problems that we do. And yet, the actors manage somehow quite miraculously to leave their problems behind the curtain, out of eyesight and earshot of their paying customers. Once the clock strikes eight, and the curtain goes up, it is Showtime. The actors perform to the expected professional standards (and the audience appreciates their ability to entertain).
With this picture in mind, I ask this: Are you satisfying the needs and wants of your “audiences” day in and day out? When your curtain goes up (i.e. whenever you are at a Moment of Truth with a prospect, client or fellow employee), do you perform like it is your Showtime, regardless of how you feel at the moment? Do you say and do what is necessary so your audience feels they can leave their burdens checked at your door — every time they come into your theater of operations?
My guess is that you probably need a little work in this area . . . that you can perform to the highest level — when you feel like it. When you are on a roll, I bet you are pretty good at what you do. When the stars are aligned perfectly, I can picture you as a real show stopper. But when things are not going well, on the job or in your personal life, do you ever put out negative vibes? If the answer is “No,” you are the one in 100,000 who can stop reading this chapter. (You can sit in the front seat of a Don Rickles routine with no fear.) If the answer is “Yes,” here are some simple observations.
A Dose Of Reality
The nasty truth is, and please don’t take this as a personal assault, people don’t care about you, your problems, or the injustices which confront you on a daily basis. People are too wrapped up in their own unfair situations and spilt milk. Since no one (outside of your immediate family) cares about you like you think they should, avoid the temptation to succumb to self-pity and get back to focusing on your personal game plan.
Write down these two words and post them in a number of places where you are bound to see them throughout your day:
Of course you will get tired, slide into a bad mood, or ache from time to time. You will get depressed and feel dejected. You will question your talent and your position in the overall picture. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t.
But, the fact remains, no one will care like you do. More accurately, 90% won’t care and 10% will be glad you have problems.
So when you feel burdened by life’s dark side — when you hear the hoarse breath of Darth Vader (the Emperor’s VP of Sales) in your ear — don’t jeopardize your professionalism. Call a time out. Rest during intermission. Rant and rave in the solitude of your dressing room. Just don’t do it in front of a customer, because until there is a major overhaul of the system, they still pay the bills. And until they tell you otherwise, they really don’t care about your discomfort. To paraphrase the
Billy Joel song:
“Don’t let your customer see the stranger in yourself.”