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How to improve your performance

How’s your performance today? Not your sales targets, or your upcoming quarterly review. Not those social media conversion metrics you deliver at the end of every week. I mean your performance. You know, like a musician on the stage with a song to perform and a crowd to work. That performance.

The word is on my mind because I saw my best gig of the year so far at the weekend – and I wasn’t even expecting to see it. But there I was, at a small village festival watching Mission Impossible, a seven-piece rock and blues bad that’s been playing together in some shape or form for the best part of 25 years.

The set list? Included Gimme Some Lovin, Proud Mary, Nutbush City Limits. You get the idea. So far so rock and roll. But here’s the thing. Those rock standards aren’t even my kind of music. I’ve never seen The Blues Brothers that much and don’t get me started on the Big Chill. Joy, however, is infectious. I’m hard pushed to remember music played so well and with such pleasure.

There’s a deeper lesson here. At work or on the stage, spontaneity doesn’t always come easy. Pleasure takes practice. Or as Mark Twain put it, “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

The moral of the story? Not all of us can compose a million selling single, or even play rock music classics with panache on the local village stage. But with enough practice, we can all find something to do at work or play that fills the room with smiles as wide on the one on the face of this writer last Saturday evening.

PS Gimme Some Lovin was written by the Spencer Davies Group in about half an hour flat. Their manager dragged them to the rehearsal room and demanded a hit by the time he returned. All guns blazing, the group composed the song and then high-stepped around the corner to the nearest cafe. Their escape plan was discovered, their manager dragged them back demanding to hear the song. The rest, of course, is history and a healthy annual royalties cheque in the pockets of Steve Winwood and co.

PPS the Twain quote is attributed. He made a similar point on several occasions, but even he would have enjoyed a good editor from time to time.

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