In so many of life's situations, we find ourselves in less than ideal circumstances. For a musician it might be attempting to perform a song (or several songs) that they've never played publicly before. For an athlete, it could be getting unexpectedly called in to a game to take the place of an injured player. In business, perhaps it's having to make a sales presentation without being as familiar with your product as you'd prefer to be. Yet, we work our way through those difficult situations. If we're good improvisers, we might even be successful most of the time - in spite of the difficulties and apprehension that we feel. Several years ago, I heard an interview with Steve Young, former star quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. He was talking about his playing career, (Young retired after the 2000 season) and how in spite of both his own and his team's great success, many of the plays he called or ran found him having to "wing it" for one reason or another. Broken down plays and assignments, unexpected defensive alignments, and just the human error factor can make the most perfectly designed play on paper end up taking an unexpected turn. It's then when one's natural ability and instincts have to kick in, and Young was as good at making that happen as any athlete I can remember. It was during that same interview that I remember Young mentioning that he and Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice used to joke about just having to "fake it till you make it." Meaning that you give it your best shot, every play and every game, despite your own shortcomings and the inevitable presence of circumstances beyond your control. Young went on to say that if you're truly prepared - rehearsed and as ready as possible for any possible thing that might happen to disrupt your plans, that you'll get through it. Indeed, sometimes just being able to fake it till you make it is quite enough. Recently, I had the chance to meet a couple of my longtime musical heroes, George Winston and Tom Rush. (See my 1/15/10 News entry on a concert by Tom Rush). I thought both of their performances were outstanding. Yet, meeting them after each of their concerts, I was surprised to hear them both downplaying their evening's musical presentation. Winston's remark was particularly revealing. When I told him how great his show was, he seemed genuinely surprised. "Oh, it was pretty ragged," he said. "It's always that way." Rush was similarly self-deprecating as he assessed his own performance, even though the crowd and I thought it was excellent. I put their responses into roughly the same category as Steve Young's "fake it till you make it" philosophy. I mean, here are three veteran performers who rate at or near the top of their professions as a quarterback, pianist, and singer-guitarist. Yet, each one readily recognizes the inherent flaws that go with their every performance. It's simply an inevitable fact of life that we humans make mistakes. We all have shortcomings and things we wish we could do better. But that "preparation factor" cannot be overestimated. If we're as well drilled and disciplined as possible, through repetition and performance in a wide range of environments and situations, chances are that even a less than perfect performance will still be "good." In fact to many, the performance will appear to be very good or even great. So the rest of us can take solace in the fact that even those who are the best in their given profession often feel less than thrilled about their performance. It's up to all of us to mine the gifts and talents we've been given, and if we do our very best, that will usually be more than good enough. Yes, "fake it till you make it" seems to make more sense the more I think about it. If it's good enough for Steve Young, it's good enough for me. JH

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Jim Hudak

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