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Never Let Them See You Sweat
By Khaliq Glover - 10/24/2009 - 01:15 AM EDT

I recently did a tele-seminar with Ricky Lawson, a multi-Grammy award-winning drummer who has played with just about every top artist in the world at one point or another including Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, and was a founding member of the Yellowjackets.

I have known Ricky for over 20 years and have worked with him on many different projects. I've recorded his drums many times. And he is one of the greatest drummers I have ever worked with as well as a great human being.

Working with musicians at that high level is an education in itself. One of the things that I learned from Ricky and several other top level musicians is to never let them see you sweat. Never let the client see you become flustered and shook up if something is wrong.

This was a huge eye opener for me because I like things to go right and when they don't, I can easily get excited trying to solve the problem. I'll sometimes catch myself making faces that indicate something's wrong, or I might end up running around frantically trying to hunt down what's causing a piece of equipment to not act right.

What I failed to consider is that the client and everybody else may be watching me and they see how I react to the situation. If I look worried, then the client becomes worried, and also everyone else who is watching me. That's not a good thing.

Ricky is one of the most cool, calm, and levelheaded people that I know. One day when we were doing a session, he could tell that something was wrong because he saw me running around talking to myself. I was saying things like "what the heck is going on", or "that's not right", or "what the...?"

He pulled me off to the side and quietly told me "Khaliq, never let them see you sweat". That was all he had to say and suddenly I realize that my face and my actions were clearly indicating that there was something wrong and needless to say, that can lead to tension in the session.

This is a constant battle that I have to fight with myself. I hate it when things go wrong and many times I have to remind myself not to let others know when it's not smooth sailing.

Everybody has things go wrong from time to time, but the true pros know how to inspire confidence by acting like there is no significant problem, no matter what they are faced with. This instills confidence in the artist that you have got things under control and all you have to do is simply ask can you have a couple of minutes to check something out. If you do this calmly, and with confidence, then no one will get worried.

This was a wonderful lesson for me that I wanted to pass it on to you just like Ricky did to me. Caring deeply about what you do is a great quality to have, but always show that you are fully confident that you can solve ANY little problem that might show up and then they will have full confidence in you. Even if you don't know, "act like you know" or will find it out.

Whenever you are working with someone, always try to remind yourself of those six little words, "never let them see you sweat".

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