I did something last week that gave me a charge.
I stood up on a stage with a group of singers and musicians and played a blues guitar solo in front of a live audience.
I am quite proud of myself.
I’m not proud because it was really good – it wasn’t – or because I stayed cool and kept in time – I didn’t – I’m proud because it scared the crap out of me and I knew I might make a fool of myself but I did it anyway.
I picked up the guitar for the first time two-and-a-half years ago because I wanted to learn something new and encourage my daughter to do the same and at that time all I hoped to do was learn a few cords so I could eventually strum some simple songs.
And even when I started to learn the soloing boxes a few months back, my timing was so bad that the idea of playing individual note riffs in front of an audience was pure fantasy.
But when a far more competent guitar player in our group – actually, they’re a bunch of kids at a Saturday morning music centre – backed out of playing a solo in Black Velvet and it was offered to me, I jumped at the chance.
Then I got very, very nervous and started practicing with a new found intensity.
Interestingly, this experience occurred while my daughter, who also plays in our group, is taking her GCSE exams.
I’m not a lot of help with the subject matter so my main contribution has been to preach to her about the benefits of keeping calm during the exams so her brain will be able to work and not to worry about her grades too much so that she won’t waste her energy on something she can’t totally control.
‘Worry does you no good at all,’ I said… but I have now amended that thought.
Worry can be quite useful if it inspires you to pull your finger out and learn what you need to learn to get the job done.
It is only a problem when you worry about things you can’t control such as how other students perform on tests or what other people think about you.
In my case my fear of looking and sounding like a fool helped focus my mind to the point where I finally started to hear the beat well enough to hack my way through a solo.
I knew it was something I needed to do if I wanted to progress but somehow I never got around to doing it, mainly because it was really difficult.
The point I’m trying to make here though is about our personal energy supplies.
I think they have to be managed wisely and the trick seems to be identifying the things we can’t do anything about, admit that is the case and then not waste energy worrying about them.
If we can do that, we will have a lot more in the tank to deal with the fears we can confront.
The really great benefit is that when we confront and overcome one of our fears we get a massive energy boost that can be used for anything else.