Are You an Award-Winning Performer?

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You don’t need an award to have award-winning performance.

A couple of friends and I went to a little jazz club in Seattle on Saturday night. The quartet, led by vocalist Greta Matassa, was outstanding. My friends and I had a wonderful time, but here’s the thing that really struck me:

Towards the end of the last set, late into the night, there were only about fifteen to twenty people left in the club. Yet the band was still playing like there was no tomorrow!

award winning performanceFor these four incredible musicians, it wasn’t about the size of the crowd. It certainly wasn’t about the money (I’ve been a club musician—and believe me, nobody’s in it for the money!), and there were no awards being given out that night. And yet these people were giving a world-class, award-winning performance. So why were they doing it? I think it comes down to three things:

  1. They love what they do. You could see it in their eyes, you could hear it in every song. With every note they played or sang, they sent the message that there was nowhere else on earth they’d rather be than right here, playing this song for this audience. Are you bringing that same love to your work? Do you send a clear message to your customers that there is nothing on earth you’d rather be doing in this moment than serving them?
  2. They’re really, really good. These four people are world-class musicians. But they weren’t born that way. They worked hard—really hard—to get there. You’ve probably read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, where he talks about the 10,000 hours it takes to achieve mastery. 10,000 hours may be a bit of an arbitrary number, but these musicians definitely put in the time. And they continue to put in the time. Actress and author Carrie Fisher once said, “There is no point at which you can say, ‘Well, I’m successful now. I might as well take a nap.'” So how about you? Are you still putting in the hours to get better and better at what you do—or are you taking a nap? Because if you are taking a nap, I can promise you that somewhere out there is a competitor who’s wide awake, and who’s putting in the hours.
  3. They’re professionals. I mean real professionals—not just the standard definition of “somebody who gets paid for their work.” These musicians know that it’s their job to give an award-winning performance every time—whether they’re playing for 1,000 people or just one. See, the truth is that award-winning performance isn’t something that’s bestowed from the outside; it comes from within. When you’re a true professional—somebody who takes pride in doing his or her job to the best of his or her ability—you give an award-winning performance every time, even when nobody’s watching. Does that describe you? If not, what’s holding you back?

The next night—Sunday—I watched the Academy Awards. When it comes to award-winning performance, the Oscars are the pinnacle. And, no question, the performances of many of the nominees and winners were spectacular. When an actor pours their heart and soul into a role, it shows, doesn’t it? You can feel it in your bones! Meryl Streep, Octavia Spencer, Christopher Plummer, Viola Davis, Robert Keene—great performances, each and every one!

“Wait a minute, Bill,” you say. “Who’s Robert Keene?” No, you wouldn’t have heard of him. He wasn’t at the Oscars. He’s a college senior at Seattle University and last week I saw him play the lead role in Hamlet. He was incredible. It was an award-winning performance—but there were no awards, no limos, no Armani gowns. Just a guy on a small stage pouring his heart and soul into a role.

Award-winning performance is all around us. It’s at the Oscars, it’s in a college theater, and it’s in a little Seattle jazz club.

Is it in your work as well?


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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