Fearless Performance by Jeff Nelsen

This is Happening

We often fear because we're lacking control.  When we're standing backstage, just about to enter our performance arena, we don't know what will happen.  This is scary!

What we can control is being right about things.  Unfortunately, being right is where we dig ourselves into a hole of fear.  If we've spent most of our preparation time focused on what we did wrong, we will stand backstage and slide into being right about what has gone wrong in the past...and then be right about how it obviously might go wrong again.  Gulp!

I remember a time I was standing back stage before playingthis solo and I thought to myself, "Well Jeff, there's only 3 places you could totally screw up!"  ...like that was a good thing!? Luckily my students didn't hear my hypocritical choice of thought!

 Do you ever stand backstage and think, "Well, you could totally nail this performance"?  In that moment, I realized I definitely hadn't thought that constructively before.  I grabbed my inspirational sheet and quickly wrote, "GreatPossibility!" like there was a great possibility for greatness.

In the moments right before we enter our performance arena, a place I call "On Deck", there are certain rules that help us do the best we can while we're there.  Certain choices of thoughts serve us better than others during this final pre-performance moment.  We need to embrace what serves us well, and let go of the rest. (One of the things I do is read an inspirational sheet.) Doing this well can be learned through experiencing a ton of pre-performance moments...in other words, perform a ton with learning as one of your goals, and you'll learn how you choose fear...and how to choose better.


One of my favorite TV shows from the last century is called Cheers. 

Each episode began with a 1-minute joke. I'm reminded of the following opening piece when I see people holding on too tightly.  Please forgive the character references you might not know. The story will still make sense, even if you haven't seen the TV show.
Carla complains about something, and says, "I don't know why this and that happened. Now I'm upset!" Woody the bartender goes over to Cliff, Norm, and Frasier (bar regulars) and says, "Hey guys, when I have a problem I just take it inside and put it in my special place.  Something else bothers me, I take that in too...put it on top of the first thing. Anything else bad, I just pile it on...and I just keep pushing the problems down into this place, and it works great! Push down, push, push...ahhh yeah, no more problems." Woody smiles and walks away, nodding.
Frasier slowly looks over to Norm and says, "...tick....tick......tick...."

Task for the Day - Practice Letting Go

Once you are about to enter your performance, when you're "on deck", it's too late to worry. Sorry, but this is happening.It's too late to regret having not done enough quantity or quality of practicing when you're standing back stage.  If you should have practiced more better, tooooooooo late.  Let go of that right now! Do more better after this performance.  Why? Because this is happening.  Right now.

If you're worrying in this pre-performance moment, you can become a ticking time bomb, growing closer and closer to a destructive explosion of stress.  Even a small burst of built up stress here will have you giving a performance way below your best.

Your only goal in this moment is to embrace what you have, and focus on sharing the best version of you. Let go of everything that doesn't serve this. When you do this, you have the highest potential to perform at your best ability level.  When you let go of destructive thoughts, you are clear to at least do the best with what you CAN do.


Build.  Be.  Share.

It's in that middle space between prepare and perform, in the "Be" space, that it's important to let go. Simply thinking, "Let Go" can help a great deal.  At this point, you're finished building/preparing and you're about to walk out and share/perform.  This part "between" is for being present in healthy anticipation.  This presence can have you playing each note, saying each word, smiling, bowing...everything like it's the only thing you're there to do.

Whether in music, business, sports, or on a date, we have plenty of pre-performance moments.  In these moments today, let go and focus on what serves you and your ability to share what you've brought for us today...because this is happening either way.  How it happens is truly up to you.

You can do this. Today.


Jeff Nelsen
Jeff Nelsen


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