Father Bill speaks

Bill Packard: Out of the box and into the zone

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 10:45pm

The people who follow me on Facebook know that I “checked in” at the Nativity Lutheran Church in Rockport last Saturday night, and I suspect a few folks scratched their heads on that one. It reminded me of something that happened many years ago. My son, Jesse, and I went to fly a couple of kites one spring weekend afternoon. I decided that behind the municipal building in Union was a good place to go, so off we went. The kites were doing great and we were having a wonderful time when a local pastor drove out back and got out to visit us. It seems the kites were quite a hit out on Route 17 and he came by to see who was doing the kite-flying. I can still remember the look on his face and what he said: “Bill, you are last person on the planet that I thought I would see on the end of this kite string.”

While there were only a couple of people who knew me in attendance last Saturday night, they had that same look on their faces.

We all put people in boxes. Stedman Graham, one of my mentors shares how, if we allow it, society will define who we are and put us in a box. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to not worry too much about what society thinks about me and therefore not put me in a box. I can’t begin to count the wonderful experiences I’ve had because I did something or tried something that absolutely did not fit what society expected me to do. You see, society doesn’t really know you. It only gathers information and then makes a decision based on what information it has. Sometimes people have a dark side and when that side comes to light, the majority of the comments are along the lines of, “I can’t believe he or she did that.”

More often, almost everyone has positive things that they do just for themselves that society never sees but when those things show up publicly, society is also puzzled.

So, what about Saturday night at the Lutheran church? My wife, Kathy, has been a cosmetologist for more than 30 years. She started when she was 10. I share with my clients and on my website the importance of building a relationship with your customers. Richard Fiske and his wife have been customers of Kathy for longer than I can remember. Our lives have been intermingled through marriage, careers, kids, hobbies and Richard’s event last Saturday night. The performance was called Winterreise. It’s a compilation of poems set to music written by Franz Shubert. Accompanying Richard on piano was Bill Smith, who did a marvelous job. This was almost two hours of solo singing accompanied by piano. And it was all in German.

It was funny when Kathy first told me about this event, hoping to get my interest. She had very few details. I could tell in her voice that she hoped I would just say yes because she was not prepared to try to convince me to attend if I had no interest. Without thinking twice, I said of course we would go. We would go because it would mean a lot to Richard to have us there. That’s reason enough.

Over the years, I’ve talked to his wife, Patty, a lot about all sorts of things. Great discussions and great fun. I have probably talked to Richard two or three times in 20 years or however long he’s been coming to the salon. Once she told me about the event, I knew we were going to be there because it would mean a lot to Richard. When the details started to come out, they meant nothing to me. I have no connection with classical music. I like country. I don’t understand a word of German.

Here’s what I do know: What happened Saturday night was magical. The presentation was flawless. Richard and Bill had obviously spent hundreds of hours rehearsing, and they presented as one instrument, voice and piano together.

Here’s what I do know: When people present something like this, they are in the zone. All those many hours of practice go into delivering a unique experience to the attendees. So when the self-centered person in the front row stood up and asked, “Can you turn this fan off?” Richard and Bill stayed focused and continued with their presentation without missing a beat.

Three things that I would like you to get from this.

One: if something means a lot to you and you would like people to be there to support you, ask. That’s all it takes. Too often, we don’t ask for support when people would love to support us just because of who we are.

Two: Open your horizons. Go experience things that you have no idea what they are, but do it just because someone asks you to.

Three: If the temperature in the room is that important to you, instead of interrupting someone’s performance, just stay the home.


 Bill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of BPackard.com.  He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant. 


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