The family of iconic singer Tony Bennett revealed that he's been battling Alzheimer's for several years. AARP has a gorgeous story about his legacy, his comebacks, and his current state. What's remarkable, though, is that his family will throw weekly at-home concerts to keep Bennett sharp--and he'll suddenly belt tunes like he was at the Copacabana.
Circumstances shouldn't change why you serve
According to journalist John Colapinto, Bennett's voice is still beautiful and strong--even though his mind is deteriorating, they are sheltering in place, and he is 94 years old. He is still entertaining, even if it is just his small family in a New York apartment.
Many of us have had to pivot and improvise even more than usual. Like many professional speakers, I had major events canceled, infinitely postponed, or otherwise taken off the calendar. Still, I managed to have a record number of keynotes--virtually, of course--and started my daily YouTube channel, recently reaching tens of thousands of people for my book launch, well above anything I'd done before.
If this is how you are meant to serve, then you will find a way to serve. The show doesn't stop.
Routines build success
The late doctor Oliver Sacks--popularized in the movie Awakenings--and other neuroscientists have studied the power of music. In short, we remember melody, rhythm, and cadence even after our brain's primary functions begin to falter.
I previously talked about the Jackson family method: You should be able to do your performance at the drop of a hat. I do the same thing as a public speaker: develop a new keynote and practice it again and again and again, until it is memorized.
Then you have the space not only to improvise but also to do it on cue.
The icons we look up to became masters because they embedded their desires and, perhaps, innate skills into a routine, turning their interests into successful habits. That stands whether we are sheltering place, fighting a ruthless illness, or going against a tough competitor.
You shine because of why you serve and how you practice. Everything else doesn't matter.