Balancing act: Youth performances teach stress management

Published: Tuesday, March 19 2013 8:00 a.m. MDT

I'm happy to report that all of them received "superior" ratings. (Please excuse that "proud parent" moment.) But even more important, I think, are the lessons they learned that will help them deal with their own waiting-outside-the-boardroom moments in the future.

"I think (the piano contest) is a good thing, because it helps you feel pressure and overcome pressure and nervousness and learn how to get through it," my second-oldest daughter said.

"Whenever I think about it, I get really nervous about the AP test (I'll be taking) at the end of the year," my oldest girl added. "Apparently I did well today, and I wasn't really thinking. I was just letting instinct and training take over.

"I think it will help me ... at the end of the year to just trust my training and my instincts."

They all talked about the importance of preparation, and that's another lesson that will serve them well as they enter the world of work.

"If you haven't practiced, you're in trouble," my youngest daughter said.

"But if you know your song, you're going to be fine," my second-oldest girl added.

Even my young son had words of advice that translate easily from a piano competition to the judging we sometimes face from our supervisors.

"You might be a little nervous on the piano," he said when asked what he would tell someone who was approaching his first competition. "They should just take a deep breath before they go up to the piano. And if they're nervous before the other song, take another deep breath."

My own experience helped me do exactly that as I stood outside that conference room. I took a deep breath, remembered my preparation and, when my turn came, walked in with confidence that I would do well.

I'm not sure my presentation that day would have earned a "superior," but I am still employed, so I guess it was at least "satisfactory."

Either way, I'm grateful for the opportunities I had as a young man to learn how to prepare for and deal with high-pressure situations. And I'm glad my own children are getting similar work-life lessons today.

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