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Career Lessons from ABBA

Those of you who don’t currently subscribe to my enewsletter might not know this, but I recently celebrated a birthday of undisclosed number. (Side note: WHY are you not getting my newsletter?? Sign up here!)

As part of the festivities, I attended an ABBA concert at perhaps one of the world’s most beautiful venues—Red Rocks Amphitheater here in the Denver area. That’s right. ABBA. Dancing Queen. Mama Mia. FERNANDO. What could be better?

Now, technically, this wasn’t the real ABBA. I mean, let’s be fair. They’d probably be shuffling around in walkers at this point and that wouldn’t make a very lively concert. Instead, the group was called “Arrival from Sweden” and they are absolutely unquestionably the best tribute band ever. As the website says, “This production is the closest you will ever get to seeing ABBA!” So take it or leave it, folks.

(Sadly, I was trying to convince my mother throughout the show that this was, indeed, the real ABBA because, at the time, I didn’t “get” it. I just figured they were in really, really great shape. REALLY great shape. Ya know, for being like 60. But we’re clear now.)

So we had a great time at the show. We sang along and danced and ate great food and drank a few cocktails. It was a great birthday celebration all around.

And, of course, I found a few career lessons in there too. Here’s what happened and what I learned.

1. Know when to hold ‘em….

As I said, we had a great time. But it wasn’t without its challenges. You see, the beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater is 100% outdoors. And, as luck would have it, we had some weather.

We saw the storm clouds approaching on the drive out there but we kept saying, “It’ll blow over.” In Denver, rainstorms come and go in the blink of an eye…MOST of the time. Of course, on this particular night, this particular rainstorm came and decided to stay a while. An hour and a half to be exact.

Like the die-hard ABBA fans we (apparently) are, we stuck it out. At some point, you get as wet as you can get so there’s no use whining about it. But yes, we still whined. After a serious rain delay, the band was finally able to take the stage and the show went on. And we eventually dried out.

Career Lesson: Sometimes, if you’re willing to put up with a little pain and frustration, it’s worth it in the end.

2. Know when to fold ‘em.

There was a time during that rain delay when we almost gave up. It appeared the rain was there to stay and we were convinced the band would ultimately cancel the show anyway—meaning all our time spent getting soaked would be for naught. Though we were bummed, it just didn’t make sense to continue suffering when it became pretty clear that there wouldn’t be a payoff.

We had actually packed up our stuff and started walking out when we heard the announcer say that the weather radar showed the system moving through in 10 minutes. That was just the reassurance we needed. We sat back down and said, “Okay. 10 more minutes. We can hold out for that much longer. But that’s it!” Surprisingly, it was exactly 10 minutes later that the rain stopped completely.

Career Lesson: Sticking it out is one thing, but don’t be a fool about it. Pack up and move on if the outlook isn’t getting any better.

3. Don’t risk your safety.

The big issue with performing in the rain at Red Rocks Amphitheater, as you might guess, is the fact that the band is surrounded by amplifiers and wires and other various electronic equipment. When the rain blows in, it makes the stage a potential disaster zone. It’s understandable that the band and the venue decided to delay the show while the rain passed. It’s just not worth the risk to push it.

Career Lesson: NEVER let work put you in a position of risking your health (mental, physical or emotional). Regardless of how many people might be counting on you, you’re not doing anyone any favors by jeopardizing your own safety. Remember that it’s perfectly okay to call a time out now and again. The people who believe in you and want you to succeed will understand, and they’ll be there when the rain passes.

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