This weekend, I judged a band competition where kids audition one at a time to make an all-district band. Sitting behind the judges screen, I realized something. Something that I’ve been thinking about for awhile about life…judging the contest just gave me a good example.
When I was a kid and trying out for band contests myself, I thought the judges were being so hard on me and were wanting me to fail. They were these larger than life adults who just couldn’t wait to nail me for something I did wrong. I thought they reveled in my failure and missed notes during my performance.
(Oh, and I pretty much thought that the whole world wanted me to fail too. That everyone would be so happy to watch my fall.)
Now that I’m an adult and have been in the judge’s position many times, I know that is completely not the case. Not at all. It’s really the opposite.
Judges are rooting for the kids. They don’t want them to be nervous. They want them to succeed. They are dying to hear great performances! Yearning for them! It’s grueling to sit there all day listening to kids screw up. So when that one kid starts playing that is totally nailing it, they’re like “YES!!! FINALLY!!!” All the judges on the panel are high fiving each other and jumping up and down behind the screen. OK, so maybe they’re not doing that, but they totally feel like doing it! There are whispers of praise behind the screen for the kid, and everyone is proud of them. And they are wishing all the other kids performed that well.
On to another example. I have had the privilege over the years to hear many different speakers in many different contexts and conferences. I hate to say it, but most of the speakers I’ve heard have ranged from “not that great” to “absolutely stinking horrible, boring, and I feel like walking out right now!” But occasionally you get a speaker that totally knocks it out of the park. And when you do, everyone in the room is totally jazzed. They are all full of energy and thinking “Why can’t more speakers be like this? This is the kind of stuff I want to hear!” People don’t want to hear bad speakers. They want them to be awesome, give them good, useful information and keep them engaged.
So here’s how this applies to life. Most of the time, we think that everyone wants us to fail. We feel like most people are hoping we screw up big time. They are just waiting for that moment when we mess everything up. And while there might be a few people out there who are wishing bad on us, the reality is that the vast majority of people out there want us to succeed and knock our lives out of the park. They want to see us be totally awesome!
Think about it. When you see a marriage fail, someone get fired, people go bankrupt, someone make a huge mistake, etc., does it make you happy? No way! If you’re like me, it makes you feel horrible! I want people to do well! We all love success stories! We’re all really rooting for each other to do well.
I wish I would have known this as a kid. I wish I could have tried out for band contests knowing that the judges were my biggest fans. I think I would have had much better success. I would have wanted to go in there and play the socks off the music to make them smile.
And now that I have had this little realization about life, I see things differently. I’ve always wanted to do my best, but now I don’t feel like I always have to prove myself. It’s not about just trying to make sure I don’t screw up and make a fool out of myself. I get to do my best just because I want to. And I know that I have tons of people rooting me on along the way.
That’s a pretty freeing realization, and it’s a much better, less stressful way to live! So let’s get in the game, the contest…life…and make them smile!!