Rule # 44: Learn a Karaoke Song

Rule# 44: Learn a Karaoke Song

I know this seems like an odd rule to write about on the first day of school for my kids, and while I am reflecting on Stephen being away at college for the first time.  But thoughts of risk taking and the start of school seems to go together for me. And I believe that Karaoke is a very good form of lifetime risk taking…

In life – all aspects of life- you are either in the game or on the sidelines.

Most people in life sit on the sidelines of the game questioning their abilities and fearing failure.  They question themselves if they are good enough, ready enough or smart enough..and instead of risking failure they become observers rather than participants.

Unfortunately I was born without natural talent in anything- sport, art or music. I of course won the genetic lottery in charm, but for almost everything else I have been in the back of the line. I’m not complaining, but early on in my life I figured out I was not going to be considered a “natural” in anything.

I moved through life and didn’t take many risks, declining chances to try out of teams or plays or virtually anything else. I didn’t want to risk failure or disappointment,  the fear kept me from enjoying things that I should have as a child.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents could not have been more supportive and caring to me as a child. They encouraged me to join sports, boy scouts and the arts- all of which I did with a back of the pack attitude.  They never made me feel that I disappointed them, and they never expressed anything but complete support- but I gave them very few ” that’s my boy ” moments growing up.

For me the future changed due to a significant event in my first year in college.

I had a speech class which was a requirement of all incoming freshmen at Penn State, and I dreaded that class. I was paralyzed at the thought of being judged by thirty other freshmen, and having a lifelong stutter made the fear greater.

The first speech was an introductory one, we were given the assignment of telling the class who we were. I remember thinking, I’m a boring, unremarkable person that I would not like to hear much about if I was a listener. I thought- maybe I should be somebody else, maybe I should be the person that  I would want to hear.

I composed a speech, ” I am a Megalomaniac ” describing my dream of becoming the largest land developer in the world and renaming streets, schools and towns with different variations of the name Bob. It was kind of silly, but I thought I don’t want to be the person at the back of the room- I want to be this person.

I practiced the speech over and over, and gave it to class- with a little stuttering and a lot of nervousness.

The class loved it. They laughed, the knew who I was- I was not just another freshman I was a Megalomaniac.

A couple things happened…girls that never talked to me, talked to me.

People asked me to join in on projects, events and just going out, and instead of taking to my natural interverted personality – I said yes.

I began a climb of confidence that allowed everything else in my life to change from maybe’s to yes.

In life, as in school, the same opportunities are presented to virtually everyone and the difference is if you take risk and go outside of your comfort zone to be somthing that you were not before.

I’ve achieved a pretty good degree of success in business  starting more than 5 businesses and building new opportunities each year. In each business I’ve started I was unprepared for the responsibility- basically learning what I needed to do by doing it. I don’t think people are ever “ready” to start a company, write a play or become a singer- they become it by doing it. Sort of like become the differnce between a some that parachutes and someone that doesn’t comes down to only one thing- do they jump out of the plane.

In your life your will be faced with many of the opportunities to say yes, but I have found that one universal opportunity will be the opportunity to sing a Karaoke song. This opportunity may come up at a family gathering, a party or a bar- but I can promise you it will come up in your life. Its a univeral truth, especially in our family.

My voice is terrible- yes I sang in Penn State Glee club (after the speech I mentioned before- part of the yes process), but there is a major difference in making “Fight on State” sound good and making a Billy Joel song sound passable. What I lack in pitch I make up in euthisam and volume.

The process of getting up in front of both friends and strangers doing somthing you are neither  comfortable with or skilled at teaches you that you can take risks and survive. That failing at something but giving it your all changes how other people see you, and more importantly how you see yourself. It says that you are capable of taking risks, facing failure and understanding that life is an advenuture.

Karaoke became sort of the family focus of this behavior because of Bobbi.  She has an unfair advantage of in actually being very good at it, but she pushed the entire family to participate. It helped all experience the process of taking risk with a pretty damn good coach behind us.

So as you start 5th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade and Junior year at college start thinking about how to take risks in life, how to become what you want to be ..because it is all open to you. You can sing any song you want in life but it all started by taking the microphone and trying.

But, stay away from ” Love Shack” and ” My Way”.. their mine.






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