I made the gravest mistake one can make with a mic. I'm onstage. But everyone's turned away, no longer interested. And it's all my fault.
Last weekend, at a backyard pool party, a friend brings his band. It's all just for fun. Plenty of drinks and laughter. They call out my name, "Let's get Thaddeus Rex up here for a song!" We're totally unrehearsed. But they're musicians. I'm a musician. What could go wrong?
So I grab one of the extra guitars and call out "House of the Rising Sun". The standard key's perfect for my voice. The song rolls out into the crowd and heads turn. People sing along. It's unlikely to be remembered as the best rendition ever in earth's long history, but in that moment, it was perfect.
And as the band hits the finishing cord, that perfect moment's over. But I don't want it to end. So I try another song. And I shatter the moment, singing an unrehearsed song without stepping the key up for my voice or checking to make sure my arrangement could sync with the band's.
And this is where I went horribly wrong. I wanted that perfect moment for myself. I wanted to continue enjoying it all, but the moment wasn't mine to hold. That moment belonged to the Audience, and as I reached out to grab it for myself, to keep hold, even when I was unrehearsed, everything fell apart. I held it too long. The moment burst. They turned away and moved on.
Whether you're singing a song, pitching a new product, or asking the board for a raise, it's all the same thing. You have an audience, waiting to be engaged. They crave that sense of wonder, to see how they help new possibilities unfold. You have to show them why they want it.
And the moment they arrive, you have to let go. For in that perfect moment, as they come to understand your potential as their own, it becomes their moment, no longer yours. Let go. Trust your Audience. They're very smart. And they'll love you even more after you've set their perfect moment free.