Are You Sitting On Your Gifts?

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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pianomotivationalspeaker2 .

Do you have gifts that you could be using as a motivational speaker that you haven’t thought about?

So I was cleaning the other day. (Pause for you to gasp in shock.)  And I found my piano.

I haven’t seen that clunker in over fifteen years. It’s been buried deep under other more important stuff. I stopped playing it about fifteen years ago. Which is strange, because I used to be really really good. In fact, they were grooming me to be a concert pianist. But it didn’t work out. I hated it. I didn’t like the rules – the structure – the metronome – the rigid scales and finger positions – the concertos that never seemed to end. And then there was that recital when I was a teenager and in the middle of the piece, I froze. I couldn’t remember a single note. Not one. I got up, bowed, and walked off the stage – and out of the spotlight, vowing never to return.

Do you have a gift that you gave up in favor of something more reasonable?  Did you walk out of your spotlight?

Looking back, I think the reason I stopped playing was this secret fear that I wasn’t good enough to do it the way they said it should be done.  I’ve spent a lot of my life listening to what “they” say I should do. And then ignoring them. Normally I wouldn’t have given that piano a second thought, but on this particular day, for who knows what reason, I sat down to play it.  Even though the dust tickled my nose, the keys were horribly out of tune, and that key at the top right is stuck – it felt magical. The music was beautiful. This time I didn’t play what they told me to play, I played the music that made my heart sing. I played Elton John, and Les Mis, and the Beatles, and Elvis, and Jekyl and Hyde, and Bach and Clementi. I couldn’t stop. It was like joy was flowing out of my fingers. My son came running in. He’s ten, and he’s never heard me play the piano before. He just stood there forever, watching. Not saying a word, as he watched his mother play.

That moment might seem simple to you. But to me it was a major moment. It was the moment I dusted off a gift and found my way back to a joy I didn’t even know I was missing. And here’s the even stranger part. Something in me knew in that moment that the music was meant to come out – in this moment – for a reason. I had the strongest feeling that I was supposed to bring my gift back out into the spotlight. I was supposed to bring music to my shows.

Now you know how I am one to always raise the bar on myself.  I love coming out of my comfort zone. I love coming up with new tricks to try on stage. But this was ridiculous. Play the piano? Can you imagine all that would be involved? I would have to learn to play and talk at the same time. I would have to figure out how to get a piano on stage. I would have to practice working music into every moment. Shoot, I don’t even do PowerPoint because it’s so much of a hassle and I’m talking about a flippin’ piano?

I told my husband my idea, thinking surely he would talk me out of it – like the time I was convinced that I needed puppets. But he didn’t. It made perfect sense to him.

I called a friend of mine in the business who uses music in his program, and asked his advice.  I told him every reason I had for NOT doing it. And then he showed me the most important reason FOR doing it. It’s a gift. And gifts are meant to be shared. And am I not the same speaker who talks about not stopping your dream because you’re afraid it won’t be good enough? Yes, that was the true objection in my heart. I was afraid I’m not good enough to play in front of people. That was the cold naked truth.

Are you sitting on a gift because you’re afraid it won’t be good enough?

And now I realize that despite all my fears and objections, I owe it to the other dreamers out there, to walk my talk. If I’m going to encourage you to face your fears, then by golly I should be able to face mine. And so with a deep breath and a little pitter patter in my heart, I announce to you the new addition to my dream – purchased just this week (no going back now) – a new piano that will travel with me wherever I go.  Yes, I’m terrified. I have no idea how to make this work.  And I’m not sure I will be good enough. But it doesn’t matter. It’s a gift, and gifts are meant to be shared.  It’s time to walk back into that spotlight and claim my joy again.  Life is too short not to play music because you don’t think you’re good enough.

And so I ask you…..will you join me in the spotlight? Will you go dust off a joy you left long ago, and pick it back up again, and play – just because?

Here’s a picture of our new “baby”. His name is Justin.  And I have included a recording of Justin’s first song.  No, it’s not perfect. You will probably hear some wrong notes. And that clicking noise you hear is my fingernails. To you it may be nothing special. To me, it is the most beautiful sound in the world. pianomotivationalspeaker My new baby’s first song……….click on the title of the song to hear it: music of the night by Kelly Swanson