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Dad always said, “I hope my life never depends on a flashlight or telephone,” because when he needed them most, they didn’t work.  These days we can add “internet connection” to the list.

From February to June 2019, I will be in South Sudan where internet is iffy at best. But don’t let that stop you from making contact because I am scheduling keynotes for my return. And if I can’t respond to your inquiry directly, a member of the fabulous Team Catherine will so we can meet your needs.

Even Lady Gaga Must Practice

How odd it is for me to think that one of my new heroes is Lady Gaga.   I have always understood at an intellectual level that she is talented and have even been known to sing along with her more popular songs.  And there is always the joy that comes from watching as she pushes the envelope prompting people to shake their heads and try to imagine what she will come up with next.   To try and predict which barrier she will blast next.  Watching from a distance and appreciating her talents was one thing but to now have her hold the title of “Catherine’s newest hero” surprises me.

Her leap in my estimation from respected to revered has everything to do with the preparation she took for her performance at the Oscars in late February 2015.  In tribute to the 50th anniversary of the film The Sound of Music, Lady Gaga sang a medley of songs from the musical in the vocal style of Julie Andrews.  And by most accounts, Lady Gaga nailed it.   The tribute was sung from the depths of her soul as she hit one astonishing musical note after another and carved out the beginnings of a new path in her career.   Come to find out, this performance of a lifetime is the direct result of the preparation she put into it.  Six months with a vocal coach.  Six months of practicing, training, transforming and evolving.  It turns out that even Lady Gaga spends time sharpening her saw.

Call me naïve but it just makes me feel comfortably common to know that even those with talent still practice and perfect their craft.   To know that in this day and age where immediate satisfaction and gratification is the expectation, it is nowhere near the reality.  To know that good comes at the price of time and effort.  To know that great remains reserved for those dedicated to doing all that it takes to create their masterpieces.  To know these things is somehow grounding and stabilizing and reminds me that the creation of all masterpieces, even my own, takes focus, determination, dedication and practice.

If I want to juggle, I have to do more than want.  I have to find something to juggle and it would probably be ideal to not start with fire sticks.  I then have to learn from those that know and finally, I have to practice.  A lot.   Mom always said, in reference to just about everything, “If it were easy everyone would do it.”

What has recently hit home for me as I go about creating my masterpiece and as Lady Gaga and all of those other creators out there undoubtedly already know:  it really helps if you enjoy the time spent preparing.    What joy it brings to sing when no one is listening, to delight in picking up dropped balls as much as keeping them in the air, and to lose track of time while perfecting a craft.  May your higher power help you if you are in the midst of creating something and not enjoying the creation part.

So whether it is 10,000 hours to achieve the level of mastery or 6 months of preparation time to achieve an astounding five minute performance, here is to those who inspire simply because they enjoy their craft so much they can’t imagine doing anything else.

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