When I was 13, I picked up playing the saxophone so I could be in the school band. Thirteen was late to begin learning music, but I didn’t care. I was not cheerleader material, nor was I going to make the basketball team, but I wanted to get socially connected with the student body. I sat in my room and played 3 or 4 notes over, and over, and over. I did it so long that my lips would bleed. The droning of the same three notes drove my siblings crazy enough that one afternoon, as I prepared for my long practice, I found all the reeds for my mouthpiece missing from my music case. I knew one of my sisters had taken them, but instead of getting mad and giving them the satisfaction of seeing me mad, I just walked to the music store and bought new reeds.
That, however, changed my mental frame. As I entered the music store, I found a small group of music students and a teacher in the middle of a lesson. They were practicing, but unlike me, they were using dozens of musical notes. They were actually playing songs. I went back to my bedroom, picked up my saxophone, and began playing the notes on a sheet of music. Suddenly, weeks of dull practice turned to a purpose… playing songs in the band.
Three weeks ago, Signature had its very first in-person program in 21 months. It was for the group of top executives in our Surge program, and it was small, with only 18 people. Prior to the program, I was anxious about so many things. I wanted it to go well of course, but personally, I had not worked outside of my own home office except to go to our studio in Atlanta to deliver the virtual programs. This Surge program would mean taking my first flight in a year and a half. In preparing for the program, I also was overtired… spending time on a zillion details to make sure it would be the perfect experience, which we pride ourselves on delivering. The combination of anxiety and lack of sleep left me feeling mentally fatigued and my senses a bit dulled.
That trip to Park City was the spark that I needed. The anxiety to fly turned into the exhilaration of freedom. The risk of not meeting our delivery expectations turned into the opportunity to share our hospitality by greeting our Signature ladies in person. Hearing their thoughts and ideas, without a hard stop at the top of the hour, was a real game-changer for me. I felt a soaring joy and a spark that reignited all of my senses. I felt alive again. And I wondered…
If it makes me feel that good, then how do I do it intentionally?
While we cannot control the pandemic, we can control how we handle it. So, this past week, as my Signature Leaders team found ourselves rescheduling another in-person program to a virtual delivery and experiencing that feeling of Déjà Vu, we know we can approach it differently. We have new coping skills, new patterns of success. And whether we deliver a program live or virtual, our purpose is the same… unleashing the full potential of each individual, in leadership and life.
Focusing on the purpose, the opportunity to play real songs in the band instead of 4 notes on my own, is what matters. It is what continues to drive us forward, even when we have that sense of “here we go again.” Each time we get to do a Signature program, it “feels that good,” whether live or in person, and keeping that in the forefront is our gamechanger.
If you have that feeling of tedious familiarity of Déjà Vu, think about what makes you “feel that good.” Collect those moments of growth and new opportunity, and keep those in the forefront. It’s a mindset.