For years I played/danced with Les Paul (yes, the man for whom the guitar is named). Almost every Monday night, he would call me to the stage of the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, as a special guest. After the show we would often chat. We talked about craftwork, being musicians, and he would share stories from way back when. One night, he described what he would do if he started a new band.
He said that if he were to put a new band together right now he would find a small hotel in Connecticut somewhere and book a weekly gig as their dining room entertainment. He said he would do that for 3 or 6 months before coming to the city – just to get the act together.
To do the thing we feel called to do, there is a work that comes first. In the dance world it is often physical – training for flexibility and strength and specific movement vocabulary. In the scholastic world it is intellectual – knowing the breadth and scope and depth of your area of pursuit.
This is homework. It’s work that happens outside of public view. It’s necessary before we present ourselves and what we do. If this work isn’t being done we lose our footing, are caught off guard, and we lack the depth and wisdom that comes from experience.
If this work is done we gain familiarity which leads to confidence which helps earn the trust of those we work with, and that includes our audiences. How we train shows up in our work. A more broad way of saying this is that what we do when no one is watching plays a role in what we bring in front of people.