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This is Not a Dress Rehearsal

Oct 31, 2020 12:13:10 PM / by Tim McCarthy

About forty times a year, at the end of Vistage (CEO peer group) sessions, I say, “don’t get caught in the dressing room rewriting the script of your life. This is not a dress rehearsal, the curtain is up and this, my friends, is THE show.”

None of us wants to be embarrassed on the stage of our lives. Yet, no one succeeds on stage or in life without flopping. When my play is over, I would rather regret the flops than realize I got stuck in the dressing room.


Why do we think we can wait until the script is right? I can recall several reasons I’ve hidden in the dressing room.

  • I’ll function better once this family member and I reconnect
  • This customer will eventually be worth pleasing
  • I’ll work out once I lose this weight
  • I’ll invest once this plan has no risk
  • I’ll be more functional once I retire…the kids are gone…my spouse is no longer sick…my savings is up to $xxx…etc.

Of course, it would be smoother to go out there once my relationship with my parents, spouse, kids, boss gets better or when we are no longer handicapped by some physical, financial, mental challenge or perceived inadequacy.

My partner, Jake Crocker, often says, “life has hair all over it”. This always prompts me to wonder, do I know anyone with a smooth-skinned life? Of course, I don’t and while you may think so, you don’t either.  

Over time, one way I keep perspective is to work in service of the hairiest people I can find.

  • Workers succeeding in our restaurant company coming from childhood poverty and/or abuse
  • People who cannot get traditional financing because of chronic poverty or past mistakes.
  • Students who are the first in their families to fight their way into colleges who have a 90% chance of never graduating.

These folks inspire me because they are acting brilliantly despite a bad script!

What issue has you waiting while the script is rewritten? Your business is down and/or you’re stuck in the house due to Covid? Things will get better when we elect the right politicians? You’ll deal with things better when “so and so” starts loving you again, that pesky client goes away or you get back on your feet financially?

C’mon, this is the show! Your show, my show, with all the attendant ebbs and flows. And as surely as the curtain came up, it will go down.

If I’m lucky enough to know when my final act has begun, the only thing I want to be sure of is that I don’t look back and wonder why I spent so much time in the dressing room.



Tim McCarthy

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Tim McCarthy

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