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Darden Smith Headshot

Just Show Up

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What if you showed up for work?

I mean really showed up.

Remember when "Take Our Daughters to Work" happened? Today it's called, "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work." The idea is for children to explore the idea of having jobs and careers. I remember hanging out at my dad's office when I was a kid. He was different there. At work, he seemed to show a side that he kept hidden at home. I sometimes wondered, who is this guy?

How do we end up as one person at work, and a different person at home? In what ways could our home-life inform the way we are at work? Or the other way around?

Maybe you fly-fish or write jokes in your spare time, but this crazy-focused part of you goes completely unnoticed -- and untapped -- at the office. It might be that your understanding of chess, or baking, or some bit of dialogue from the movie you just saw, is the very input that is needed on a project. But you've left that part of you at home because it doesn't seem valuable or relevant. When John Jarvis, the quiet, mild-mannered keyboard player told me in the middle of a recording session for my latest album, Love Calling, that he'd just come from a sparring session at the boxing gym, I saw another part of him. I got closer to who he really is. And I could reference that in our conversations about the sound and intensity of a particular song.

We need to start "bringing ourselves" to work. It's risky, yes. People might think you've gone crazy, suddenly started (or stopped) taking serious meds. But there's always the other possibility, that who you are and what you bring is exactly what is needed.

I was talking the other day with Billy Kirsch, the hit songwriter and public speaker, about what it takes to do our jobs. What we do, whether it's writing, recording, performing or speaking requires us to be totally present. If musicians are faking it, phoning in the performance or the writing, it just doesn't work. The song falls flat. The audience can feel it. They may not know why they're bored, but they can sense it all the same. But when we are willing to be completely there-plugged in, awake, ready for anything - -the song writes itself, the studio comes alive, the audience connects. For music to be work, we as artists have to show up. Without that, it is just words, just noise.

I believe we all have much more to contribute than we acknowledge, especially at work. We often hide the best part of ourselves, thinking that no one wants to see who we truly are. We come up with a million reasons why what we have to offer isn't needed, wanted, or appropriate.

I would venture that just the opposite is true.

You want to have a better day? To contribute more, make a difference? Engage with your work. Bring your world with you. Bring yourself to work.

It's not rocket science, not a magic trick. It's the simplest thing.

Just show up.