I had a great chat today with a client and my thoughts around one of my latest personal adventures and organizing finally coalesced.
I am taking a beginning voice class at my local junior college. "Beginning Voice" is a fancy way of saying "Singing lessons." It's a group class, but not a choir. We are each working on individual songs and each of us will sing solo in front of the class at least 5 times over the semester. Marvel Gardner (the most wonderful, charismatic, talented, and funny voice teacher in the world) then evaluates our performance on many (oh so many) different levels.
It is, at the same time, the most exciting and terrifying thing I have ever done. Maybe this is the kind of rush people get who like to bungee jump or skydive. (I'm NOT one of those.) I took a few singing lessons when I was in high school and sang in the chorus of our production of Oklahoma! But I have never sung solo. ("Singing" campfire songs in front of 300 people in Yosemite as a park ranger doesn't really qualify.)
But in these past few weeks, I have learned a lot about myself and even more about letting go of perfectionism, which I am forever pushing on my clients.(The letting go, that is, not perfectionism!)
Just before the night I thought I might have to sing solo for the first time, my little brain was having a huge conversation with itself. Mostly about rationalizing dropping out of the class. "The song she is having us sing is too hard." "It's not my style." "I can't remember the words." "I don't sing it very well." On and on.
The other part of me took over and argued "But you've been wanting to do this for years." "You've already spent the $199 on the course, and you won't get it back." "Just do it and see if you really DO suck at singing, because your shower head is NEVER going to give you an evaluation of your abilities or help you be a better singer."
Yes, I went to class. I got there too late to sign up for singing that night and instead I just listened to my fellow newbies sing "Long Time Ago" (you can hear a bit of this on iTunes if you search Long Time Ago sung by Yvonne Kenny), over and over. Some were good. Some not so good. Some were good in parts, and not so good in others. Nobody was perfect. The song sounded different on everyone since each student has a different voice.
What did I learn? I learned (and remembered) that good enough is good enough. And practicing the song really helps. And even if I sucked at the song, I was still doing it. Even if it wasn't my best effort (sometimes I don't know when to stop practicing and just start doing), I was still going to sing it, get evaluated and learn what to try to make it better. I learned by watching all the others go before me and listened carefully to Marvel's instructions. I put those into practice when I rehearsed, and yes, when I did perform finally, it wasn't perfect, but it didn't suck. She gave me pointers and I worked on them. And when I performed again, I did better. Still not perfect, and that's OK.
I experimented. I let myself feel the fear and still performed. This wasn't Carnegie Hall, it was voice class, and I owed it to all the other students who had also faced their fears and performed in front of me. Backing out would be letting them down. Backing out would be not holding up my part of the deal. Sing for me and I'll sing for you.
This little essay only scratches the surface of what I am learning in this 13-week commitment to this class. But it has given me even more respect for others who face their fears, commit to change, and let go of trying to be perfect for fear of being seen as less than perfect. My clients do that every day. Each time I walk into a new client's home, I am often the first they have let in in months, years or decades. I don't take that responsibility lightly and I am honored they have chosen me.
My class is called "The Joy of Singing" and I can only hope I bring the "Joy of Organizing" to my clients (or just inspire readers) in their quests for a more comfortable home and life...even though the path to that life might be scary, challenging, change-making and hopefully, thrilling at the same time.
Sometimes we hit the right note. Sometimes we don't. But it's awfully quiet if we don't sing at all.