I watched the world change for the better Friday night, a witness to wholeness just a smidge more fully expressed and experienced than it had been. Crowded into a small winery on a busy Friday night, friends enjoyed the earthy pleasure of great live music, wine, food and each other.

Two bands covered the evening. Neither had a style that you could pigeonhole; yet both were true joy to experience. They performed freely, interacting with each other and connecting deeply with the audience!

One of the band members of The Common Deer is a buddy of mine, a young man I’ve come to love and admire as a human being. His name is Dannel Fischer. He was thrilled we’d come out and he visited at length with our table after they wrapped up. The evening was special for him, knowing that people in town had enjoyed the evening and that he had contributed to that for them.

He enjoyed our joy as much as we did.

The winery had printed up some promo posters advertising the Valentines Day evening. Dannel snagged one and came to our table, asking every person there to autograph it for him. We were puzzled at first. Doesn’t the performer usually give the autographs?

I watched as he struck up conversation with other friends and with complete strangers and getting their autographs on his poster.   We had come to see him, yet he had come to see us and to bring us more than just a great performance.

Dannel performed greatly.

One of the better books I’ve read lately is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. She brings great wisdom from years of research and invites us to the invitation to live whole-heartedly. The conversation does not skirt around the edges of our problems or challenges. Instead, it dives head first into those as reality and points to the light that exists even still.

 Daring greatly opens the door to performing greatly.

The world will judge us by how perfect and precise our performance is. Heck, we judge ourselves by that standard and take on a higher view of ourselves when we actually succeed. Conversely we allow a lesser view of ourselves to sound a shameful noise when things go poorly.

We are not better or worse because of our performance.

We are invited to perform with whole hearts. To give our best, in spite of…

I work hard for a team I love. The whole team works hard to perform and create great outcomes. We serve our community through our work together. Our best work is done when we practice and perfect our performance together. Our deepest work is done when we work on our relationship with each other and when we revisit why we do what we do.

We wrestle daily with the reality that the world judges our performance. Sometimes it is perfect. Sometimes we miss a note or two. Often we need to be reminded of Teddy Roosevelt’s infamous Man in the ring speech, where it is not the critic who counts…

Our greatest calling, as a member of the team, is to acknowledge the tension that exists between the ever-present performance analysis and the head-heart-hand connection it takes to show up and perform greatly.

We all understand the need for accountability and why we have Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) in this world. As we live around and under those daily, we must lean into the invitation for whole-hearted and deeply personal restoration.

 To perform greatly, the mind and heart must know and move toward wholeness. It cannot find its value in performance. Whole hearts become holy hearts when they are released from such bondage.

And whole hearts end up playing beautiful music, performing well above any standard known before.

Jesus taught his young friends (guys even younger than Dannel) that their love for one another would be a change agent in the world. He invited them to see their lives as though a light set upon a pedestal so that others could benefit from the glow and see in the darkness. He likened their life as salt, seasoning that which needed seasoning and creating a thirst for water that would satisfy.

The world changed a little for the better Friday night indeed. My friend and his posse, The Common Deer – they shone like lights in a small, crowded room as they played the music that they love. The performed greatly! You can too.

May we, common deer just like them, play with our whole hearts from whatever stage we currently play from.

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