I’m going to tell you a little personal story today, one that I told to my business networking group today.
Some of you may know I play music on the side every now and again. I’ve been in a billion bands. Started playing bass right around my Junior year of high school (What is that, 5 years ago now?). Right around the time I was 20 or 21 I was in this punk band called Freshly Squeezed.
We were young and dumb. BUT we were pretty lucky. Lucky enough to stumble across the right connections that got us into a lot of concerts with VIP passes, and we managed to eek out a couple opportunities opening for some major acts of the time like Public Enemy & the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Now the thing about the Red Hots wasn’t that they were cool and they played good music. Back then the bassist Flea was my all-time favorite bass player. Maybe he still is even today. So imagine yourself doing something you love doing, and then getting the opportunity to meet face-to-face the very person who has inspired you to do it all along. I couldn’t have been a happier camper during this time.
Now the point about this story isn’t necessarily about a shameless plug for self-promotion – it’s about happened to us backstage with the members of RHCP. Two things that stood out for me:
They were drunk and perhaps stoned out of their mind. This was the Mother’s Milk tour right before they hit it HUGE with that “Under the Bridge” song and right before John Fruciante went nuts with heroine. But I distinctly remember watching John wearing nothing but red BBD’s climbing up one of the pipes along the walls and then hanging from the ceiling of the backroom.
And then I remember standing in front of the Flea…my bass in hand. The Flea was also warming up in front of me slapping at his own bass. (He played much cooler music back then). What does any dumb 20 year old say to his music idol standing in front of him? “I want to play JUST like you one day” AAACGH. You know how there are occasions in life that make you toss around in bed and shiver from head to toe because you wish you hadn’t said or done it? This was one of them for me.
What was the Flea’s response? “Naw you don’t want to be like me, you want to be yourself, have your own style” Obvious response, one that I would obviously give to anyone now that I’m older and wiser.
My point to my network group was this — as obvious as this response is to me now, there are times were I may be stressed over how I speak to an intimidating client, or how I well I dress up in some monkey suit for some presentation, or concerned about how professional I come across on my website…
And then in those situation, I can think back to the day I was standing in front of the Flea, dressed in his pants made out of stuffed animals, reminding me to “be yourself”
I’ve used that mantra for both work and my personal life ever since.