Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tonal Tuesdays - What We Say to Ourselves

How many times have you heard someone say, "Oh I can't sing."  Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics Inc., always said, "If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can't, you're right."

Too many times, people feel they are avoiding a negative or chance at failure by just saying, "I can't" and not even trying something new or different.

However, Zig Ziglar, another of my favourite speakers would be prone to say that, it didn't matter how positively he thought, he would never be a brain surgeon without a lot of training and education.

We looked at Potential v.s. Talent in a previous post.  I know that this was debated by some very well trained and talented musicians.  In that post, I mentioned that you must have "the want" or positive attitude to take the potential to successful result.

This post is more about our self-talk than ability.  Think of a day at work.  Someone said that you did a great job on that report.  Another person smiled as they passed by.  The third person however, frowned and said that he felt you could have worked much faster.  Now, which of those happenings do we hang onto?  I bet that negative comment keeps coming back.  We create self doubt and second guess ourselves wondering when the next shoe will drop and we will be found out for the inadequate workers we really are.

Two thirds of the comments were positive yet we tend to dwell on the one third that was negative.  I think it could be human nature or at least a nature that we have grown into these days. Perhaps it is due to hearing the types of comments such as those made on reality shows that can be biting and I feel,  unnecessarily critical and somehow accepted at "funny".  So if we allow that negative atmosphere to surround us, of course we are going to feel very black and focus on it.

We can combat that negativity.   We choose what we read, listen to and indeed, accept.  This isn't a false Pollyanna painting of the world in positive terms but a considered decision to see what is good - the glass half full idea.

It is important that as choir members and directors, we help foster that positive thinking.  One of the things we do in our choir to foster those positive feelings is that we don't have formal auditions.  That gets rid of the "I can't" cop outs right away.  Our "try-outs" are in situ and we decide if the fit is right for both the choir and the singer.  Often people have said that they aren't sure they are suited to the choir and we always say that we both need to try it on for size.  Once someone has learned some basics and had a few times to give us a try, we can decide if we are a fit on both sides.  Will I tell people if they need to make major changes?  You bet.  But I will do it privately and in as positive a manner as possible.  Minor changes are dealt with at the time.  We keep the communication paths open and I feel like we build a trust so that choir members don't think I am being critical on a personal level.

After that, the singers must bring their positive attitudes with them.  We have fun (you know that is our mandate in ETS).  We are serious about our music and we have a great time working to make it.  Yes there is lots of really challenging music to be sung.  We can choose to all make an effort to honour the music by enjoying every minute we use to create those sounds.  There is enough sad and negative "stuff" in the world.  Let's make our singing part of the upbeat(pun intended) world.  We must each bring our bag of happy thoughts and ideas to our activities including our music.  As Mary Kay says, "If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours."


Colleen said...

Great post! I think these are the shades of grey that were being debated. There are so many elements that come in to being good at something and I think you've hit on a number of them.

Embro Thistle Singers said...

Thanks so much. There is so much in this world that is out of our control. One of the things we DO control is our attitude. Yippee!