A parent came to me
and asked if I would speak to her daughter. It turned out that her daughter had auditioned for the lead
in her senior musical, thought for sure she had gotten it, only to be told that the role was going to a junior instead.
Her daughter was devastated. This was her last year! She had been performing
all through high school. She was very talented with an excellent voice. She wanted to
major in theater in college. She was looking forward to this performance as a showcase. It
was not to be. Her mother thought this so unfair, but it was rumored that the junior had stronger dance
skills. Her daughter was in a near depression. The director had offered her another part. Her
daughter felt like this was a put-down and a hand-out. She felt humiliated. Could I
talk to her and perhaps say something to make her feel better? I agreed to try.
We decided to meet at Starbucks. I bought her a Frappaccino and we found a corner table
at which to sit quietly.
I started, not a great time, huh?
just like these past four years mean absolutely nothing-I mean, if I’m not talented enough to land my high school lead
after all this time, what’s going to happen for college?
And with that, she burst into tears.
I got up, went around the back of her chair, gave her a hug and said
When I sat back
down, I made her look me straight in the eye and continued,
But I hate to break it to you rejection is not failure. And failure is not the
Walk away from yourself
and answer me this. Do you think that everyone got every job they applied for?
Do you think that everyone got appointed to every position for which they were recommended?
Do you think every candidate, every company president, every entrepreneur
got to the top without at least one failure, first?
but not least, do you think any leading actor or performer that you admire, aced every audition, got every call back, landed
every role, received the deserved Oscar, Tony, Emmy whatever?
what makes you different?
with that I got my first smile.
You have a long wonderful journey ahead of you. Think of your future as a car traveling down a road.
Along the way there will be stops, closures due to weather, unexpected back-ups. You may have to
pull off to the side. Fix a flat tire. You will definitely have to stop for gas, to
eat and to sleep. You may have to follow a different route. But, your future does not
end at the first stop sign. It does not disappear after the first closure. It is not
over with the first cone, or barricade! It detours, it merges, it winds, but it keeps going. After all
a car has to get to its destination somehow. Roads were not designed for cars to be left out in the middle
of nowhere without an exit plan, right?
had one rejection. Your first barricade. What do you do?
I don’t know.
Well, think about it. If you were a car and you came upon a barricade, what would
I’d back up?
Ok. Then what?
Go back where I cam from?
Would you look for detour signs?
I guess so.
And you would follow those right?
And while the detour might take longer, it would still get you back to the main road, right?
So what do you think you ought to do about this play?
I don’t know.
Well, how could you back up and find a detour?
Accept the other part?
Yes, that’s one possibility. Another, is to think about all that goes into
putting on a play besides the acting and singing and dancing. There’s the set designing, the music the lights and costumes.
You know Sean Penn once said that his time as a stage hand and set designer helped enormously in his playwriting. Is
there any reason why, as you are backing up and accepting another part, that you couldn’t enjoy the scenery along the
way? Maybe offer to help with the lighting, or the music or the costumes and lend your talents and leadership abilities to
other areas in this production? I am confident that they could use all the help they could get. Besides,
leadership qualities go much farther in college admissions than leading roles.
For the first time, I saw her face brighten.
The music teacher has been looking for help with the younger kids in the chorus.
And maybe I could show her a song I wrote.
You didn’t tell me you wrote songs.
Yeah, it’s fun.
Well, that’s a great idea. You see? You
are much more than one role, Go explore, expand and have fun with this!
Kids to not fail. They have stops along the way and those are never final. Detours offer
alternative paths, and those alternative paths create new opportunities. But whether it’s not making
the varsity team, not getting into the first choice college, not landing that coveted summer internship, not winning the school
election, kids need to understand that they are way too young to speak of failure. The word failure has
no place in their vocabulary.
Detours will occur. That is the nature of
roads. Rejections will happen. That is the
Nature of life. Neither means ‘destination closed’—just a new set of directions!
Next Installment #47 Time For A Nag Out!
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