The Right Speed

The Right Speed

Working remotely from home has its perks. You can throw in a load of laundry, start the dishwasher, or work in your sweats all day (unless you have video calls, then be sure to match the sweatpants with a nice shirt and tie). Or, if you’re like me, you can go through your album collection and listen to records all day.

Yes, I said records. I’ve always been a bit of an “old soul” (although with every birthday, I’m just becoming a “soul”). I love everything vintage, so years ago, when my parents were emptying their garage and preparing to donate a box of records, I dove into the collection and pulled those that stood out. Even when I moved to my small studio apartment in New York City, I was sure to bring my records and my small record player because some times, you just need hear music with the slight crackling of the needle against the vinyl to really enjoy the tune.

Yesterday, while I was working, I put on a record: Sammy Davis Jr. At The Cocoanut Grove. It’s a live album of Sammy Davis Jr. performing at the Los Angeles nightclub, The Cocoanut Grove in 1963. If you want an album to sing along to while writing an email or working on a budget spreadsheet, this is the one. I highly recommend it.

On side 2, midway through “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” I noticed something. Sammy Davis Jr. started to sing a little faster… and a little higher. In fact, he started sounding like Alvin and the Chipmunks. The singing along started to get a bit more difficult.

If you spent any part of your life with record players, you know that the speed setting is very important for the record to play correctly. Set on the wrong speed, the album either plays too fast or too slowly which, of course, changes how the song sounds.

Knowing the issue, I walked over, took the needle of the record, gave the player a little Fonzie-style love tap, and reset the needle. Whatever glitch was corrected, and Sammy sounded like his beautifully crooning self again.

While I listened to the rest of the album, I started thinking… Nothing was wrong with the vinyl record, the recording, and certainly not with Sammy Davis Jr.’s voice or the band. The problem was the speed. The truth about the album or that night at Cocoanut Grove in 1963 didn’t change. What I *heard* changed… but what I heard didn’t change the truth of the album.

Listening To Our Own Records

Do we do that to ourselves? How often do we have a voice in our head telling us something that isn’t true?

  • “You’ll never achieve this goal.”
  • “You’re not qualified for that job | You don’t deserve that promotion.”
  • “No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be good enough.”
  • “You’ve bitten off more than you can chew.”
  • “Get ready because this is the beginning of the end.”

The big problem is — that voice saying those things… it may not be high pitched and fast and sound like a chipmunk or it may not be low and slow and sound like a sloth. That would be too recognizable. Too odd. Too easy to spot. No — many times, that voice saying those negative things may sound like your very own.

That’s when I realized, when negative phrases like those come into my mind, I’ve got to check my speed. Too often, a self-deprecating thought can enter our heads and we immediately accept it as fact. We may *hear* any of those phrases like the above or the countless other statements that can make us doubt ourselves, but it doesn’t make them true.

Listening To Know Yourself

Imagine you were there… in the Cocoanut Grove club that night in 1963 when Sammy Davis Jr. recorded this album. If you heard a sped up or a slowed down version of that recording, you could testify, “No! I was there. That’s not how it sounded at all! He sounded amazing and incredible, and I loved every bit of it!” You would know. You’d be the expert because you were there, and you know the absolute truth.

The same is true with you. You have a front row seat to your life. You know the truth, how hard you work, and the sacrifices you make. How long you study, the hours you prepare, the depth of your research, level of your dedication… you know it all. So, when that voice in your head that sounds eerily like your own says anything negative, you too can testify and say, “No! I was there. That’s not how it is at all! I work amazingly and incredibly hard, and I’m proud of every bit of it!”

The truth about yourself isn’t based on what you hear. It’s based on what you know. If you ever start doubting, make sure you’re on the right speed. Once you are, you’ll be your beautifully crooning self again.

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