Climb Every Mountain
The song Climb Every Mountain is sung at the close of the first act of The Sound of Music by Mother Abbess. It is an inspirational piece used in many situations to encourage people to take every step in pursuing their dreams. The musical is based on the 1949 memoir of Maria von Trapp and many of the songs have become standards. Jenny Lynn Stewart, known as a Heart-Stirring Songstress, toured the U.S. and Asia as Mother Abbess opposite stars as Marie Osmond, John Davidson and Patrick Cassidy.
The past couple years has brought words like pivot and reinvention into the everyday language to most people around the world. However, those words are already very familiar to a working artist. As a former opera singer, Jenny’s life has been filled with change and pivots. She has used preparation techniques, the discipline of showing up and attitudes of reinvention to keep working in a very competitive field. We cover some of those principles that apply across the board to most every area of life and business: Preparation, Mindset and Reinvention.
Preparation to Climb Every Mountain
The commitment to preparation is a key ingredient for any working artist. It doesn’t matter how much you are or aren’t working. There is always some sort of preparation that is necessary. That preparation may include making smart health choices to present your best performance or keeping your instrument in shape. For any vocalist, the body is your instrument.
Training, solid repetition and healthy habits all come into play to be ready for auditions, sales calls or even meetings. This applies for every field, small and large businesses. For the arts, to prepare for any new music theatre role, Jenny would first learn the text and lyric before the music. By doing so, she could more fully understand the focus of the scene or the song. This habit was a result of her training and it became a habit she put into place. There is no single way to approach a new opportunity, but when your solid preparation meets opportunity, you have a better chance for success. Note that I said solid preparation. The way you prepare with repetition and detail is important.
Preparation also includes an attitude of lifelong learning. One role or a single successful business call doesn’t necessarily guarantee future success. This learning includes reading, studying and improving your craft. There are no shortcuts to what it takes to truly prepare, even though that is often the temptation. For any sort of historical role in theatre, writing project or even speech, consistent study and research will give you an edge that may put you on the top of the heap of wannabees.
Mindset to Climb Every Mountain
It’s easy to not show up for calls, meetings or even events, especially when facing difficult weather, when tired or lacking motivation. But if you sit and wait for the phone to ring for the opportunities to just come to you, you may be waiting a very long time, going nowhere! It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert, extravert or someone in-between. The courage to show up applies to everyone.
When going on an acting or musical theatre audition, there are usually many others going for the same role, lined up around the block. When we held auditions for my original musicals in Los Angeles, (see: Musicals) I was amazed at the number of actors who came out for their chance at a role. And this was nothing near the role Jenny was auditioning for with a touring company that included stars and a bigger paycheck. It’s especially interesting to see how many others who look and act like you go for exactly the same role.
Developing a healthy mindset of not only preparing, but then showing up ready to audition is part of the process for many theatrical roles. This applies not only to theatre but to many areas in life. We need to show up for not only job and sales opportunities, but for relationships, family and even ourselves. Marie Osmond played Maria when Jenny’s Sound of Music tour went to Asia. When they arrived in Hong Kong, Marie did not feel good the night of their performance, but she realized people bought tickets mainly to see her perform. Because of this, she went on to perform the first half of the show, then let the understudy take over. This is a true professional at work. There are times we don’t feel like showing up but perseverance and a commitment to your audience, client, business or family causes us to show up, at least for part of the time to honor our commitment.
Reinvention to Climb Every Mountain
Most everyone has had to make changes, some large but many small, especially during the last two years. Those changes have been a part of the process of reinvention and even restarting lives and businesses. Learning and embracing new technology, working virtually, re-evaluating priorities have become a part of everyday life.
Technology, especially, has been a challenge for many entrepreneurs. My suggestion is to focus on the basics and add one element at a time, very slowly not to be overwhelmed. This also applies to establishing new habits. It is not necessary to have every gadget and gismo at your disposal, but I do encourage the obtainment of good quality equipment appropriate for what you are attempting to accomplish.
Way back in the dark ages, I was shopping for a record turntable. As a note, the popularity of those turntables have come back in style with the resurgence of vinyl records. When looking at different brands, I decided on the medium-priced model, which was very good quality and did everything I desired. The higher end model looked wonderful, but it didn’t have that many more features and it performed the same task as my model. As I recall, I think it even had the same stylus needle. When we look at today’s cameras and electronic equipment, the same principle applies. I have known more than a few entrepreneurs who went crazy ordering top of the line equipment to only find that equipment still packed up in the original packaging, ready to be sold on eBay. But do pay attention to quality. You want your purchase to last!
What is Your Mountain?
Every person’s challenges are different. It’s easy to go down the road of comparison when viewing others on their journey, but our comparison should be with ourselves. There are elements of every project and task where we can grow and learn. The only way to get better is to show up, perform, then learn and show up again. This applies to video production, performance, sales, and even running a business with relationships.
To climb your mountain and get to your summit, perseverance and showing up go a long way. If you haven’t read the book The Summit, put it on your reading list! You will be inspired as well as entertained in this allegory that will guide you through your climb to Hero Mountain®
There are no shortcuts to what it takes to truly prepare, even though that is often the temptation.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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