Three Nights of Karaoke

Is there anything more liberating than being okay with making a fool of yourself in front of others? We spend our whole lives avoiding situations like these. So, we keep quiet when we have something to say; stay in our chairs when we’d rather dance, or stay home when we’d rather go out and sing.

Karaoke offers opportunities for failure in each song you sing. Maybe you’ll sing off-tune, forget the words, and move awkwardly. And it’s completely okay. The world doesn’t end, and you’ll live to sing another song.

While at #PureAccelerate in Austin, I had the gift of visiting a karaoke bar three nights in a row. The last two nights of karaoke were spent at Ego’s (@egos_bar), a “dive bar” located under a parking garage.

Does three nights in a row make me sound like a karaoke junkie? Maybe? Except that I’ve over sung karaoke two other times. While I’m always soliciting people to go to karaoke, no one ever says “yes” to an invite.

Even if you discount my innate social awkwardness, karaoke is a hard sell. Something about making a fool of yourself in front of strangers and listening to bad renditions of songs you love and hate turns most people off.

Being able to visit the same bar two nights in a row was eye-opening. The first night at Ego’s, singer after singer walked up to the stage and killed it. They moved like JT and sung in tune, and people cheered. It felt too good to be karaoke.

I left the karaoke bar with the belief that many of the singers possessed this innate talent and had missed their calling as performers. This may be true in one or two instances, but how am I qualified to judge this? Honestly, I viewed the situation through the lens of my “unfulfilled purpose” emotional baggage.

On the second night at Ego’s, I realized my naivety when I saw the same singer perform the same song that he sung the previous night. Conversations about his repeat performance revealed that Karaoke “regulars” frequently sing the same songs. They find songs that they can sing well and they keep singing them.

What I assumed was a mind-blowingly good performance was fine-tuned over many performances. This isn’t much different than the skill assessments we tend to make about everyone.  We craft these narratives that anyone ahead of on the skill curve is naturally gifted and that our clumsy attempts are futile.  We don’t know where people are in their journeys, but yet we make all kinds of judgments about the paths that they took to get there.

Since we will never be experts, why even try, right? Except this fear of never measuring up keeps us small and leaves us with an unfulfilled purpose.

Lately, I think a lot about fear.  I’ve lived so much of my life afraid. Out of all of the lessons that I want to teach my children, how to live a life controlled by fear isn’t one of them. I want them to believe that it’s okay to do new things and not fear failure.

Now that I’ve shared my karaoke life lessons, what are some of the unexpected places that you found lessons?