Comparison is the thief of joy.

I was asked to be a judge at a fundraiser recently. It was a dancing competition along the lines of Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing With the Stars in aid of Sligo Rugby Club. It was a really well organised night, great entertainment and huge effort had been put in the organising committee and by all 15 couples.

Everyone had a great time…I must have been the only person in the room that didn’t enjoy it.

Now don’t get me wrong – I loved the dancing, the craic, and pretty much everything else about the night itself – I just didn’t enjoy being a judge.

I had to give a mark out of 10 and some sort of entertaining/controversial comment to each couple. I was encouraged by the organisers to be ‘the Simon Cowell’ and I tried one or two half-critical comments but I couldn’t do it with any conviction.

We were only allowed give a 7, 8, 9 or 10. I gave one 7 towards the start of the night and I felt so bad afterwards that it was the only 7 of the night that I apologised to the couple involved.

Why? Well in my mind each of these people had given significantly of their time, tried something most of them had never done before, and gave it socks in front of 800 people. How could that deserve anything but a 10?!

But if it’s a competition you can’t give a 10 to everyone.

For me, playing music is the same. The minute you start comparing yourself to others is the minute the joy starts disappearing from it. And it should be joyful!!

A good friend and wonderful musician – Seamie O’Dowd – said it best when he said, regarding music – ‘It’s not how good you are at it, it’s how good it is for you’.

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