Years ago, I was offered a paying gig as a wedding singer. I had previously sung at several friends’ weddings for free, so I jumped on the chance to get paid for it.

Little did I know this would be a BIG lesson in persevering under fire.

First of all, I came down with bronchitis two days before the wedding rehearsal. Then, once I got there, I realized I had forgotten my music for one of the songs at home, which was a two-hour drive away.

So, the pianist and I decided we’d practice that one song on the wedding day, which was not an ideal situation!

The day of the wedding came, and I could sing, but I still wasn’t in the best shape. but I was a far cry from feeling great. Because I felt unprepared and still sick, this got the best of me.

What happened next was embarrassing–

Unfortunately, I forgot to change keys during the wedding in one section of that mostly unrehearsed song, and I kept singing that incorrect key throughout the rest of the song.  

Ugh! It sounded terrible! But I kept forging ahead, acting as if nothing were wrong at all, but inside I was mortified. Eventually, the pianist caught up with me, and thankfully I nailed the next song.

Then the funniest thing happened during the reception. The groom said to me: “You sounded great, Kathy, but the pianist sure screwed up!”

I almost burst out laughing, but instead, I thanked him and didn’t say a word about what happened. However, the bride refused to talk to me. And then she refused to pay me!

Although this experience wasn’t fun at the time, I can laugh now. Also, I learned several lessons on how to persevere during difficult situations, especially when you’re in the spotlight.

1. Fake It Until You Make It

When I made that mistake, I made a conscious decision to stay committed to my direction, knowing that doing anything else would only make it worse. I pretended I knew what I was doing, even if it was wrong.

Lessons Learned: We all make bad decisions, but sometimes the best course of action is to stick to our guns IF the fall-out would be worse if you suddenly change course. This approach could work well if you’re in a new role and need to inspire those around you to follow your direction. In either case, be confident in whatever choice you make.

2. Have a “Don’t Give Up Attitude”

I committed to singing at this wedding, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from doing that. I also didn’t let the mistake I made limit me from nailing the next song.

Lessons Learned: Make a firm decision to do what you say you’re going to do, even if times are tough.  

3. Be Tenacious at Getting the Results You Want

My perseverance in bugging the bride to pay me paid off; I got a check in the mail six months later. Even more important, the lessons I learned in perseverance with this gig were worth all the time, effort, and even embarrassment I experienced.

Lessons Learned: Tenaciously pursue your goals. Then take stock of what you learned. Knowing that you can overcome specific challenges can help build a more profound ability to persevere under fire in the future, which produces even great tenacity.

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