Here’s a confession:
I started performing for selfish reasons. It was all about me.
I wanted to show off, I wanted to be the center of attention, and I wanted people to like me.
In the beginning performing is addictive. It’s a rush. You shake with nervous anticipation and hit the stage full of adrenaline. Applause from a good show will carry you to the next show; when you can finally get in front of an audience and feel that rush all over again.
But being a show off can only get you so far. When I started performing full-time I quickly realized that I needed to approach things differently.
For me to have a sustainable career I realized that I needed to make what I do about other people. It couldn’t be self-serving or narcissistic. I didn’t want to be the center of attention any more - I wanted to be the link between people and an unforgettable experience.
When I started making my work about other people everything changed for the better. People were more into what I do because it was about them. I still received applause and still got a rush, but now it was because I was cheering someone up or encouraging others. The amount of positive feedback I received for my performances increased exponentially. When you don't expect anything in return it's amazing how much you'll receive.
I hear other artists talk excitedly about the thrill of being onstage or how much they get out of their performances and I sit aghast, wondering if they even realize how much they’re missing the mark.
It’s not about you. It simply can’t be.
No matter what you do - onstage or off - it should be at the service of other people. Otherwise, you’re going to have a hard time being satisfied in your chosen profession.
Use what you do to make people happy, help improve their existence, inspire, and motivate. Share your wisdom but don’t be preachy. Encourage others but don’t act like you know everything. When everything you do originates from a place of helping other people you can’t go wrong. You'll be making the world a better place, even if it's just in your own little corner.
There's a wonderful Chinese proverb that goes "If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody."
The best things in my life have come from helping other people without asking for anything in return. It’s made a world of difference for me and I’m sure it will do the same for you.