Changing Your Tune

October 2006
by Florrie Binford Kichler

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“Do the thing that you fear
every day,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. But I bet Eleanor never performed a
ballroom dance-routine solo in front of more than 100 other dancers.


As someone who has spent most of
her life trying to avoid audiences, I definitely feared dancing the cha-cha to
Santana’s “Oye Como Va” dressed in jeans, T-shirt, red bandanna, and a peace
medallion. My dance instructor had assured me the performance would be the
culmination of my year-long lesson program, and in a weak moment, I agreed.


All eyes were upon me as I waited
for the music to begin. The wait lengthened, and it quickly became apparent
that the music I had practiced to three times a week for the past six months
had disappeared. No Santana. No plan B.


I saw two choices. Either I left
the dance floor relieved at having an excuse not to perform, or I stayed to
dance to an unfamiliar song, risking missteps and humiliation with 100
strangers watching.


My guess is that most of you have
faced a dilemma that feels similar in the course of running your publishing
company. Do you play it safe, and get what you’ve always gotten? Or do you leap
out of the comfort zone with, at best, the potential for reward and, at worst,
humiliation, missteps, loss of revenue, or even bankruptcy?

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