As I write this, I sit in the common area of my son’s music school, the School of Rock. There’s a video of various student performances playing, a private lesson or two going on in the rooms behind me, teens plucking away on their guitars while they hang out eating snacks and my son’s “band” doing their best to rock Seven Nation Army – cacophony! But amazing – how many of you are brave enough to get in front of an audience – even a small one – and do something that you’re not 100% sure that you’re terrific at? And you’re only seven, or eleven or fourteen? It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it? I’m inspired to think about how we can all be rockstars at work:
- Try. As we get older, we sometimes forget to try something new – it’s too embarrassing to take a crack at a presentation or the creation of a program description without being sure that we’ll succeed. You know what? It’s still okay to try. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll still have your day job!
- Take a back seat. This is a strange one if I’m telling you how to be a rockstar, but letting other people shine is what makes a really good band. By allowing your own talents to support someone else’s makes everyone better – just as Jon Bon Jovi would be nothing without Richie Sambora or Steven Tyler just odd looking without Joe Perry, your CSE or boss is nothing without your kicka** talents and efforts at budgeting, marketing or meeting planning. Own your place in the band.
- Rock your solo. When it actually becomes time for you to take your solo, go for it – Angus Young it on the floor, freak out like Flea, channel Neal Pert – and give it your all. Don’t phone it in, really make it count: prepare, practice and crush it.
- Practice. Despite various mythologies and seven year old fantasies, no real rockstar ever made it by just picking up a guitar and starting to play – it takes years of practice, hours of repetitive exercises and the like. If you’re new to the game, respect your elders – they’ve been doing scales and chord work for a long time…you can learn something from them. And you who have been at it a while – doing the road tours and setting up your own gigs – don’t forget what it’s like to have a fire in your belly; give them some space to try (see numbers 1 and 2).
- Have fun. Some of us have Very Important Jobs. Some have less cachet. But we all have people depending on us to perform some duty and we’ll all do better if we’re having fun while we’re doing it. You know those bands that totally gel? The ones who have been together forever? It’s mostly because they’re having fun. You should too – the band will be stronger for it!
– Libby Bingham