Between today and yesterday I have been on the phone all day, learning that nearly every conference I was to speak for is either canceled or postponed, leaving me with no stages for a great while.
Having made my career on stage for 20 years, this has never happened.
I welled up with tears as I felt the event planner on the other end of the line crying, as, well…their year worth of work was gone in an instant…frustration and confusion an understatement.
Empathy was the best I could offer, as I knew this was a huge decision they had to make to let go of all the work and now figure out a new plan.
Many would be affected. Trickle down effect is real!
On my end, one by one, call by call, email by email, text by text, I crossed dates off the calendar that would have been providing for my family, after a lean 2019 left me grasping for a better 2020 of bookings.
I pretended to be strong with each response of encouragement to my clients, but just sort of did my best to keep the Promise to be stable, understanding, and unshaken.
But I admit: Today I am shaken.
And as tough as this is, for all of us, for those who are sick and not getting better, those who are losing huge amounts of money, time spent, and seeing even dreams dashed in the form of colleges with hopes to win a now canceled March Madness, to the family not going to Disneyland on vacation, to my Utah Jazz and favorite players as the first to be hit and seemingly blamed for shutting down the NBA, mass confusion and hysteria, to those infected that are facing a whole new reality…
I can say I am grateful for many things despite how grave it looks for my business at this very vulnerable moment.
As I went through my now decimated calendar and began picking up the pieces today, a headache came on so strong I had to take a walk for 90 minutes outside just to cope.
Worked again for a few hours and then the headache returned.
I don’t remember the last time I walked from my home office to my bed for a time-out from social media, news, email inbox dinging to let me know everything is gone, from bookings to prospects to – oh yeah, taxes are forthcoming, too.
I actually took a nap midday.
I curled up in a ball and passed out.
March 12, 2020 goes in the history books around here.
Woke up to greet my children at home, thankful they are well, we are together, and to do my best to start again.
Went back to my calendar and realized my last performance was for an audience I never would have thought would be my last one, if indeed, I don’t have any gigs for a while.
It was a show I donated for my Grandmother’s Care Facility. A room full of elderly, wonderful, been through everything and every time or challenge, kind of people.
We had a delightful time. It was almost a month ago.
We sang songs from their youth, and how amazing to see those who can hardly remember names or dates to suddenly spring into full chorus of a musical memory deeply embedded in their nostalgic soul.
That was my last performance!
Had I known that at the time…
I wouldn’t have done one thing different.
This is The Promise I speak of.
I prepared as if it might be the last time they’d ever see a performer, because due to their age and condition, some of them it could have been!
And then to think these are the most susceptible among us to being infected and potentially taken by the virus, as the news is telling us, I am concerned for their well-being.
Since that is my last performance for a while I can say I am grateful that was the one.
I gave it my all.
They gave me their all.
Many whispered in my ear as I went around and hugged them afterward, “If I could stand I would have given you a standing ovation.”
As the gigs that once filled my calendar now either move to fall or are canceled altogether, I can honestly say to look back and be filled with gratitude for what was is a very comforting place for me to land today.
I know in that moment and time I did my best, for the right audience, for people who needed it.
Today Gratitude Wins.
And as I move forward and work on creating more experiences like that, in keeping my Promise to every audience, hoping for another chance, for another moment of engagement, magic, music, laughs, and interaction, connecting with a LIVE audience…well, there’s nothing quite like it.
And The Promise will remain as it always has for every Performance:
I will always perform as if it’s The Last Performance.
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