A Little Happier: A Lesson Learned by Beyoncé and Solange Can Be Learned by Us, Too.

I recently read a fascinating comment on X by Mathew Knowles, who is the father of legendary musicians Beyoncé and Solange, and who also managed their musical careers.

He wrote:

One thing I taught Beyoncé and Solange was to practice failure. We would practice how they’d respond if their microphone got cut off, if their shoes broke on stage, if the wrong song got cued up in their performance set. Anything can happen and they were always prepared to have a response! I would like for you to consider the same lesson. Whether you’re a performer or artist, or an entrepreneur or professional, practice how you’ll respond in the event you fail. It’s a skill that can and should be developed!

This is a delicate balance.

On the one hand, as Mathew Knowles points out, it’s useful to recognize all the things that might go wrong, and prepare. On the other hand, we don’t want to catastrophize or upset ourselves by imagining failure or embarrassment in dozens of different ways.

Nevertheless, I do think it can help us feel calmer and more confident if we ask ourselves: What might I do if something unexpected happens? What are the obvious things that can go wrong, and how can I prepare?

I thought of Mathew Knowles’s approach recently, when my husband Jamie and I went to a comedy show called the Garden of Laughs, at Madison Square Garden. It was a comedy show that featured six well-known comedians, and because it was a fundraiser to benefit the Garden of Dreams Foundation all kinds of famous people participated in addition to the featured comedians, who were people such as Tracy Morgan, Jon Stewart, Bill Burr, and Michael Che.

In between the comedians, famous actors and sports figures would come on stage to introduce the next act.

At one point, the three people making the introduction seemed to fumble in confusion. “Is this a bit?” I asked Jamie; we thought maybe it was part of the show.

But no.

Actor Edie Falco (you may remember her from her role as Carmela Soprano in The Sopranos or Nurse Jackie from Nurse Jackie) soon made it clear what was happening: the teleprompter wasn’t working. These three people didn’t know what to do or what to say.

Now, this performance wasn’t a big deal. And we can’t have a Plan B for everything we do. But watching them up on stage made me think: If I ever use a teleprompter, I’m going to make sure I think about what I would do if the teleprompter fails.

If Edie Falco doesn’t know what to do in such moment, I certainly wouldn’t know what to do–unless I’d thought about it first.

It’s good to think ahead.




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