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The Art of Showing Up

I’ve been pondering the experience (or art) of showing up. It’s risky, right? Showing up means running the risk of messing up.. missing the mark.. or the oh-so-horrible failure. But the thing is, it’s only possible to fail if you’ve stepped up and tried something with the faith (not the guarantee) that you could do it.

Taking a risk and showing up to try new things is what led to all of the innovations in history, so it’s important that we take risks. The most successful people who ever existed were not always sure they would succeed but decided to show up anyway because their work was worth it even when scared or unsure! Showing up is worth the risk.

What does the phrase showing up mean?

Showing up means you commit to focus on doing the job and then actually take steps towards your goal.It’s so hard to allow ourselves to exist in this kind of space, isn’t it? It feels unnatural and uncomfortable. It’s easy to think, “Why in the world would I sign up to feel that vulnerable and incompetent??” Like Homer Simpson said, “If at first you don’t succeed, give up.”  Sadly, sometimes we actually believe that! We’ll lock it up deep down inside of us and believe the lie that that we are not worthy of achieving something because we didn’t get it right the first time, so we fail to show up.

It’s for this reason that I’m challenging my students with their music every day. I’m pushing them to new greatness in themselves that they may have forgotten they’re capable of. And I know that I can’t expect my students to be the only people doing that, I have to expect that of myself and model showing up for them! It won’t happen overnight–in fact quite the opposite—but through consistency on both ends, we know that student achieve so much more than they ever thought possible. We’ve seen it time and time again.

I love to encourage my students by telling them that some of their work will be super breezy and familiar, we’ll learn little by a little so they’re always comfortable with the material. And sometimes it’s time for something new which challenges what they think possible in music! And wow- that last one can be frustrating, but a little secret I know is that we’ll take those steps only after I’ve gained their trust. I’ll be showing up to set the example!

Sometimes it feels like you know exactly what’s going on with your music, to the point it can feel boring or monotonous… and other times, the music feels gigantic and seemingly in another language entirely.  Taking risks is a scary thing. But it’s also a necessary part of life. We learn and grow through our failures, as long as we have someone there to help us pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off. That’s where the teacher comes in.

A good teacher will earn your trust before asking you to take big, scary risks. They know that failure is a possibility, but they also know that it’s how we learn. So next time you feel scared or vulnerable, remember that it’s okay to show up anyway. Failure is just a step on the way to success! Think about a time you were brave enough to take a risk, even though you were scared.

To let yourself be seen – by showing up – even though there’s no guarantee of triumph, is beautifully human and brave. It shows that you are alive, and curious, and willing to participate in all the joys that life has to offer, no matter how vulnerable you have to be to get it. And once we do venture out into the unknown, we often find that things aren’t as bad as we thought they would be. So next time you feel scared or vulnerable about something, remember that it’s okay to show up anyway. You might just surprise yourself with what you can achieve! The lie is thinking you’re not good enough to even show up and try.

Lucy Showing Up

Lucy had always been afraid of failing. Her entire life, she had worked hard to avoid any disappointments or setbacks. She was hesitant to try new things because she was worried that she might not be good at them. Every time she tried something new, she couldn’t help but think about what would happen if she failed. Would she be laughed at? made fun of? She didn’t want to risk it.

So when her piano teacher suggested that she learn a new song on a higher skill level, Lucy was hesitant. She wasn’t confident that she could succeed at a higher level. Her fears of failure held her back from reaching her full potential, because she didn’t allow herself to be seen fully showing up – to embrace her vulnerability and really try.

Lucy’s teacher quickly recognized that she was allowing her fear of failure to win. Instead of focusing on the possibility of failing, her teacher encouraged her to focus on her strengths and abilities and apply them not just one small section of the music. Focusing her energy on one small part at a time, her confidence gradually grew. She started to feel better about herself and her abilities. The small wins started adding up in to BIG wins! With each section she learned, she felt a sense of accomplishment. With a little effort, Lucy was able to overcome her fear and succeed.

Lucy’s teacher helped her see that failure is a normal part of learning. We all make mistakes and we all have to start somewhere. Lucy began to see failure as a way to learn and grow. And with that mindset, she became more excited about learning how to play the piano. She decided that showing up for her lessons was worth the risk of failure – and even more importantly, messing up is OK! When she did mess up, nobody made her feel stupid or small. She knew it was safe to be imperfect. It’s okay to need practice and to be a work in progress!

Student, you are always allowed to make mistakes, learn, and do it all over again. Showing up is worth, show out, The choice is yours. We hope that you feel encouraged to take risks in your own life after reading this post.

Think about a time when you were vulnerable, but decided to show up anyway. What happened? We would love to hear from you in the comments! And remember: You. Are. Enough. 

No matter what Homer Simpson says.

The Art of Showing Up
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

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