Let's Find New Cheese, Shall We?
The three mice were happily living in the maze, day after day, traveling to the same location to get cheese. It was a contented life. A simple one.
Then one day, the cheese wasn't there. It had moved. How each of those three mice reacted to the cheese moving formed the basis for the parable -like tale in Who Moved My Cheese?.
One of the mice in the book just threw up his little paws with great despair and lived a lonely, withering existence waiting for the cheese to be returned. The other mouse grieved for a bit but then took off looking for new cheese. He didn't stop until he had found and even bigger, better assortment of cheese that was enough to last him the rest of his life. The third mouse vacillated between the two, but because he was never able to fully just be brave and launch out looking for the cheese himself, he ended up with the same demise as the first mouse.
This short little book made a huge imprint on me many years ago and I'm telling you, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. You see, my cheese has been moved. In a BIG way.
As I'm writing this, President Trump has just announced that all shelter-in-place orders will extend through the end of April. We've already been in quarantine-ish conditions for the last two weeks, and now it appears we have at least another five to go.
I'm not o.k. with that.
I'm really not. I mean, of course, I respect everything that is being done to keep us safe. Of course, I agree with the concept of shelter-in-place and how that will help us get through this as a community and nation.
But that doesn't mean I'm o.k. with it. Nope, I'm actually downright stressed about it.
How about you?
One of the hard parts of being self-employed? Trying to keep focused on running your business well when you are under extreme stress.
But, this is our time, Piano Teacher Friends. This is our time to be light-footed, strategically flexible, and pivot our game plan under these conditions. It's our chance to take a different turn through the maze, to try a different route, to launch out in a new adventure.
I know the temptation is to stare blankly at the wall. I know the temptation is to just sleep the day away. I know the temptation is to throw our hands up and say there's no hope for piano lessons during this stressful time.
Ah, but we would be wrong. Definitely wrong.
It's actually time to accept that we need to look for new cheese in this crazy maze.
This is an AWESOME time to build a piano studio. This is an awesome time to show genuine care to our clients. This is an awesome time to try something new, learn a new skill . . . maybe even learn a skill that sets us up for a different demographic when this is all over! (long term online students, anyone?)
So, here are some key things to remember when your cheese has been moved:
1. Your future self -- you know Piano Teacher [insert your name here] - wants you to take positive action NOW. Do not let your future self suffer the consequences of inertia or fear today.
Think through what you can do today -- right now -- to make positive change in your piano lesson studio. Can you start posting more on social media? Do you have more time to organize your curriculum? What positive action can you take today that will help you look back on this time and say "Wow -- look at all the GOOD that came out of that crazy time!"
2. Your studio can reach an even deeper level of community and connection as you all go through this TOGETHER. Believe me, your piano students and their families are very stressed right now too. They are also sick of being home, sick of figuring things out day by day, sick of hunting from store to store for toilet paper.
Here is your chance to reach out and build camaraderie. Email more often. Send text messages. Ask your students how they are really doing. Show care for the mom or dad who is suddenly facilitating distance learning for their children while figuring out to transition their own job online.
3. You can even build your studio -- yes it is possible. Right now, families are desperate for something their children can look forward to. As the shock and confusion of this starts to wear off, families are now trying to figure out a new normal.
You and your awesome online lessons can be a part of that new normal. A teacher online who is smiling at them at the same time each week? That is a precious thing these days. So don't give up, especially if you were just beginning to start your piano lessons when this all hit. Now is a great time to start online piano lessons.
So, Piano Teacher Friend, it's time to look for new cheese. We've had a few weeks to turn mindlessly in circles in our living rooms (ok, maybe that was just me). We've had a few weeks to walk through the shock of all of things that have changed.
But, now, let's start to pivot, take a different path through the maze. Change course just enough so that this turns out to be something really, really good for our studios. That's not to say the stress or the grief or even the fear will disappear, but we can still take positive action even in the middle of all of that turmoil.
I know your cheese has been moved too. I grieve that for all of us. But, I'm ready now to look toward the future. To find new ways to run a successful piano studio.
Will you join me? C'mon, we can help each other. :)