The audience of one.
We were all assembled by the small white pavilion, next to the river in the hot Florida sunshine.
Everything was in place, the beautiful flowers, the bridesmaids in their bright coral dresses. The bride was waiting to walk down the aisle strewn with flowers, once the violinist I had started to play her song. Unfortunately, the violinist couldn’t remember the tune. That violinist was me …oh dear!!!
The best thing about memories, is making them.
As I listened to the backing track I worked out the first note that I had to play, then came another, and another, and thankfully before long I remembered the tune, and there I was, playing at my son’s wedding.
The next time I played my violin for a family event, it wasn’t a happy occasion. My dad had just been to a Scottish dancing lesson when on the way home he had a massive heart attack and died.
When my mum said to me “Roger, Id really like it if you could play your violin at the funeral”. It would have been easy to say no, as I knew I would have to wrestle with my emotions and try to keep my composure, but I agreed to do it. I played the songs that mum had suggested; dads favourites, jolly Scottish tunes, and songs from the musicals.
How did I manage to do it? How did I manage to stay focused on my violin playing and not allow my emotions to spiral out of control?
Well in my case, I focused on my audience, but it was an audience of one. When I played at my son’s wedding I could have focused on my nerves, maybe not having had enough practice, or the bride nervously waiting to walk down the aisle. Instead, I chose to focus on the one: my son, who’d asked me to play. I felt so privileged to be asked, it was his big day, how could I possibly let him down.
“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt
When I played at my dad’s funeral I chose to focus on the one: my dad, who I imagined sitting in his favourite armchair, taking such pleasure from hearing me play all his favourite tunes. It helped me to mentally block out the things that were happening around me.
Well, I’m sure that won’t be the last time I play my violin under difficult circumstances. My Mum is a fit healthy 89-year-old, but she has already handed me a list of songs that she wants me to play for her funeral! Needless to say, I haven’t started practising them yet, and I hope that I don’t need to for a good many years!
Well, I don’t know about you, but that’s the way I mange to deal with my nerves. I sometimes doubt myself and my abilities, so when my daughter said: “Dad have you entered ‘stage-time’ (a speaking competition) yet?” I felt as though I couldn’t let her down, she was believing in me, even if I wasn’t believing in myself, so that day my daughter was the one.
“You keep your eyes on the prize, you try to do what’s right, and eventually, you’ll reach your goal.”
~ Eric Holder
In the film The Lady and the Tramp, there is a scene where Tramp says to Lady “Aw, come on, kid. Start building some memories.” Not all memories are happy but let’s not miss the collateral beauty that comes from pushing through difficult circumstances. You not only add value to other people, you also grow as a person, as you learn to take things to another level.
I hope that we can all find our audience of one, that helps us get through those difficult circumstances. To experience that feeling that comes when we take our eyes off how we see ourselves, and to be able to see ourselves through the eyes of someone else: a son, a father, or a daughter.
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.