Learning to be Still in Difficult Situations

Are you able to stay calm in difficult situations?

Jan Smith is the premier vocal coach in the U.S. Her chart-topping clients call her "Mama Jan" -- a nickname that Usher gave her years ago. In this video, Jan shares the importance of "being still" when dealing with difficult situations. Whether we are at work, at home, or, as Jan often is, on the road, we all face challenging circumstances. Yet, in the midst of turbulence, Jan is often called upon to provide stability. Working in the tumultuous entertainment industry, she has seen first-hand the positive impact of exuding calmness when those around her are anxious, stressed or overwhelmed. As Rorke Denver says in his related video, "Calm is Contagious," staying calm and infusing those around you with a sense of stability is a vital leadership principle. What is your leadership style when dealing with difficult situations?
You know what? People are crazy. (Smiles) Okay, number one. I work in a business where there are a lot of extremes and I've been extreme in my own life and so I understand that pretty well but I'm an artist, and so artists kind of live on the edges and we like to surf that way. Understanding that doesn't always make it easier because people are difficult, and like I said, they're crazy. So if you add to that some of the recreational excesses that exist in the music industry in particular, you've got a whole lot of stuff to deal with on your hands. It's not just the artist. A lot of times, in fairness to them, it's the people around them that really fuel the fire to keep it moving. It's managers, it's promotion people, it's marketing people and they live on the fringe, too, so there's a whole lot of frenetic stuff going on, especially when people are caught up in that cycle of success. And things get nuts without the people being nuts. The situation can be so unstable. Being stable in it, man, is that an important mama thing to do? I get to be the stabilizing factor a lot of times, put my hands on people's shoulders and say, "Calm down for a second." Or they come to me just for that respite. I say, "You know what? Let's be still." One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalms 40:16, and I've learned this the hard way, and that is "Be still and know that I am God." Learning how to be still in the middle of a cyclone is so incredibly important to keep your balance. I cannot even tell you how important stability is. I think that when you help to provide stability in an artist's life or when a manager sees you as being someone they can count on to kind of troubleshoot for them, a lot of times I get to fill in that gap. I'm the person who stands in the middle when the manager needs something done. They need the artist to do something and the artist don't want to do it, so I get to be that person to present it a different way and the artist will listen to me. They do it because they don't see me as an antagonist or protagonist. I'm just all about them. And they do see me as their ally. So the good news is it does stabilize that whole relationship and it allows progress to happen. It allows things to move forward. I think in business being able to do the same thing is really important, even dealing with staff. It is about being for the people, being a team builder, and when you are the person that other people seek out to help to stabilize the frenetic craziness, it calms everybody down so that everybody wins. I have to believe that that's a valuable place to be even though sometimes, like I said, it feels like being a security blanket. But everybody needs a blanket to wrap up in every now and then so not a bad place to be. So whenever I'm confronted with a difficult situation or with difficult people or both, the thing that I know to do best is just to go straight in. I'm not going to dance around it. I'm going to go straight in. I'm going to do my best to think clearly. Being able to make a decision, win, lose or draw, right or wrong, make a decision and then pull the trigger, go for it and get it done and be able to clean up afterwards. As Rorke Denver says in his related video, Calm is Contagious, staying calm and infusing those around you with a sense of stability is a vital leadership principle.

Jan Smith

Jan Smith, dubbed Mama Jan by Usher, is the world’s premier vocal producer and instructor. She has over 26 years experience in the music industry as both an artist and a mentor. Mama Jan is a Grammy nominated producer and a Georgia Mu...

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