The Serving The Song Approach

There are many ways to do fine work. This approach mirrors the way that some singers aim to seek, serve and share the song. Let’s explore these themes.

Seeking The Song

Imagine that you want to follow this approach in your own way. How can you find the work you want to do – the song you want to sing? Some people take the following steps.

They build on their strengths, do things that give them positive energy and explore ideas they find stimulating;

They find something they want to pursue – sometimes through serendipity – and translate this into setting a specific goal;

They perform superb work, find solutions to challenges and work to achieve their picture of success.

Different people follow this approach in different ways. Some songwriters, for example, get ideas from their tapping into their own feelings, watching people or working with other musicians. They then aim to translate these experiences into songs

Emilylou Harris wrote her own songs but also searched for other people’s songs which had certain qualities. She aimed to find songs that resonated with her and may resonate with others. She said:

“Most of my career, I’ve been a finder of songs, a gatherer of songs.”

Some people find their true work by absorbing themselves in things that give them positive energy. These adventures produce serendipity provides new pathways. Here is a summary of how one person explained the route they took.

The Paediatrician

I have always been good at passing exams because I have a photographic memory. But it wasn’t until my early twenties that I discovered what I felt passionately about.

I took a year off to go travelling and eventually landed in the Greek islands. There I met many refugees and their children. This prompted me to go back to university and study to become a paediatrician.

There are, of course, many other ways to find your vocation – your calling – the song you want to sing. Imagine that you have done this in your own way. You may then move on to the next stage.

Serving The Song

Some singers talk about the importance of using their talents to serve the song. They aim to show respect for the song and bring it to life in a way that resonates with the audience.

Some people take a similar approach to doing the work they love. They aim to show respect to the craft, perform superb  work and help other people to achieve success.

Let’s return to the analogy of a singer serving the song. Several years ago I worked with a singer who wanted to feel at ease when performing live in front of audiences. She explained this in the following way.

“My career took off but then it stalled. I became preoccupied with being loved by everybody. It got to the point where I froze if I spotted a person in the audience who was not being appreciative.  

“There is now an opportunity coming up, however, where I have the chance to sing live. I would love to take it, providing I can deal with my version of stage fright. I want to enjoy singing and also give people great experiences.”

I invited the singer to recall her most satisfying performance. Looking back, she said her best performances came when she served the song. She described one particular experience when she sang one of her favourite songs.

“I rehearsed in my room and in my mind for many weeks. Then came the day of the performance. Getting to the theatre, I went through my usual rituals for centring, which included deep breathing.  

“Moving from the dressing room, I snapped into action and strode onto the stage. Forgetting myself, I sank deeply into the music and aimed to serve the song.  

“Before I knew it, the song was over and the audience gave rapturous applause. I am not exactly sure what happened, but people said it was the best performance I had ever given.”

Looking deeper, we began to explore what she had done right on that occasion. We then looked at other times when she had given fine performances. Could we see any recurring patterns?

Eventually we began to clarify the key principles and how she could follow these in the future. Looking ahead, she felt it would be useful to pursue the following themes.

To play to my strengths when choosing a song … To forget myself and serve the song … To perform superbly and, when appropriate, to add something special. 

We focused on the specific steps she could take to translate these principles into action. This resulted in her feeling more at ease when giving performances.

Some people focus on serving the work they believe in. They may then go through a process of absorption, adventure and, when appropriate, doing work that helps people to achieve success.

Sharing The Song

Singers love to share the song by performing for audiences and making records. One artist I worked with also loved teaching budding songwriters how to write hits.

Some workers also love to share the fruits of their labours. They may do this by passing on knowledge and practical tools that people can use to do similar work in their own ways.

Some share knowledge by taking apprentices or teaching classes. Some do it by acting as coaches, mentors or trusted advisors. They love to share frameworks that people can use to achieve their own pictures of success.

There are many ways to do fine work. One approach is to do a piece of work where you may want to follow your equivalent of serving the song. You will, of course, do this in your own way.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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