Last Saturday at The Poison Frog Brewery I got to accompany Steve Tucker with my harmonica . It was the first time in a while I got to really blow some blues as we did an entire set together. I have jammed with Steve a few times before. He’s an amazing musical talent and knows how to make those who play with him sound better. All the drunks at the bar agreed I sounded pretty good.
The truth is, I knew better. I wasn’t at my best. It took me the whole first song just to find a groove, and I was totally winded at several points, which is hard to do considering you play harmonica by breathing in and out.
I was a little rusty.
I’ve been playing harp for over 34 years. I play in my car driving down the road (one hand always on the wheel). I play when I’m playing guitar at The Poison Frog. I have played with the bands at several trade show parties. I even played on stage at The House of Blues in Chicago (bucket list!!)
But I hadn’t played in over a week when Steve asked if I had any harps on me (which, of course, I did, as most harmonica players always do).
I was a little rusty. If you only heard the opening of the first song, you wouldn’t have been impressed. If you stayed for the entire set, it got much better.
Here’s the lesson in all of this. I was prepared to play harp. I brought three different harps in different keys to the brew pub where a guy I have played with before was performing. Yet, because I hadn’t been practicing, the start was a little rough.
If you want to be at your peak, you have to practice. If you want to be the best sales person to every customer, you have to be practicing. You can’t just toss out the first customer as a “warm-up”. You have to be ready to perform at peak every morning when you turn the key on the front door.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. How do you get to the top of the business game? Practice. How do you make sure every single customer gets your best? Practice. We all get a little rusty. We all need to practice.
Next time Steve Tucker plays, not only will I have the harps in my pocket, I’ll be blowing the blues in the car on my way to the bar (one hand always on the wheel).
PS Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. There is the long-term preparation (training programs) and there is the short-term preparation (shaking off the rust before the first customer walks through the door).
If you need caffeine to start your day, have a plan and maybe even a back-up plan. Lack of coffee is a poor excuse for bad customer service.
If you need to free your mind a little before you greet the customer, then start your day a little earlier so that you have time for meditation or spiritual rejuvenation.
If you need to meet with your staff for five minutes before you open shop, then schedule them to start 20 minutes before you open so that they all make it on time and you don’t have to rush.