Have you ever organized a conference, ceremony, wedding, or performance? It is a ton of work. The guests simply show up and observe the show. A Master of Ceremony (MC) steps forward with the microphone into the spotlight to lead the guests through a journey. They orchestrate multiple speakers to the climax of the ceremony or performance, where the biggest moment takes center stage. I was that MC recently at my church for a Royal Rangers Gold Medal of Achievement Ceremony. The Royal Rangers is a Christian ministry raising up boys to become godly men. They develop outdoor, survival, leadership, and spiritual maturity over a decade-long path. The Gold Medal of Achievement (GMA) is the highest award and equivalent to the Boy Scouts Eagle Scout Award. To put this into perspective, there are over 10,000 Royal Rangers nationally and less than 1% ever earn their GMA. Therefore, we celebrate this accomplishment with as much pageantry, formality, and fanfare as we can create to honor the recipients, their parents, their mentors, their church, and Jesus, their Master Ranger. On November 13th, 2021, Logan and my son Kenny Carfagno were recognized for this high honor. It was an emotional day. I've been preparing my first born son for this day for 10 long years in Rangers. Both young men crushed it! Feel free to watch the GMA Ceremony and hear the keynote testimonies of Logan and my son, Kenny.
There is a reason that I am sharing this story. Certainly, I am proud of my son. But there is a very important lesson I learned as organizer, leader, and MC of this ceremony. There are so many moving parts for the guests to view an incredible ceremony or performance. For our GMA Ceremony, it included the following: Printed programs in English and Spanish to be designed, printed, and handed out, ushers, greeters, cleaners, graphic art, stage design, lighting, sound and microphones, slide show synchronization, live streaming with multiple camera angles, close up photography, ceremony script, timing & placement of over 20 men and boys that were on stage, videos, worship music, the police officers showing up between shifts to carry the American Flag, faithful women in the kitchen preparing dinner for the banquet, our chef preparing dessert, parents getting their kids to 3 rehearsals prior to the 13th, no one getting sick, setting up of the banquet, serving the food, collecting the letters of mentors from across the country, coordinating dignitaries, presenting gifts, and more. As the orchestrator of this ceremony, I was stressed at 3:30pm. I knew it was gametime after 3 months of planning and rehearsal. I was running around to make sure all last minute preparation was complete and everybody was in place. At 3:45pm, it was completely out of my hands. I had to trust that all the moving parts would function in perfect concert. I gave my worry to God, prayed, and sat down to allow others to start the ceremony off. At 4:15pm, I took the stage in front of over 100 guests to begin the formal portion of the recognition ceremony. I was not worried at all. I could see that all the parts were functioning. At 4:45pm, Logan and Kenny took the stage for their keynotes and captivated the crowd.
Lying in bed that night, my wife asked me what I was thinking. I said this. "I had no idea how much was involved and how many people it takes to make a great ceremony. There were so many people that signed up as volunteers to slave in the hot kitchen or run the video camera or sound booth or print the programs. So much had to happen in the background for me to even have the ability to take the stage with the mic in the spotlight. Everybody looked at me as the representation of the ceremony, which then was transferred to each speaker with the microphone. But none of this could happen without the background. We give all the credit to the main actors or the lead vocalist or keynote speaker, but they would be nothing without all of the people in the background."
You see, I gained a new appreciation for the people that work and serve in the background. Listen to portions from lyrics of two songs that I like from different genres and eras.
Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" from 1988
"It must have been cold there in my shadow
To never have sunlight on your face
You were content to let me shine, that's your way
You always walked a step behind
So I was the one with all the glory
While you were the one with all the strength
A beautiful face without a name for so long
A beautiful smile to hide the pain"
Lecrae's "Background" from 2010
"Cause we all play the background, but mine's a rockstar
Yeah, so if you need me I'll be stage right
Praying the whole world would start embracing stage fright
So let me fall back, stop giving my suggestions
'Cause when I follow my obsessions, I end up confessin'
That I'm not that impressive, matter of fact
I'm who I are, a trail of stardust leading to the superstar
I could play the background...
I'll play the background, like it's an instrument."
Fellow cleaners out there. This is us. We are part of the background. We show up at homes to clean them when the owners are at work and show up at people's work when they're at home. We're not seen or acknowledged unless we make a mistake. It's a lonely role. Nurses, you are in the background as your care for our elderly and sick in the middle of the night. Grocery store night shift workers, you put food on the shelves. Truck drivers, you deliver our food and necessities all over the country and endure a life on the road, constantly dealing with car drivers that are angry and unappreciative. Amazon, UPS, FedEx, USPS workers, you get our mail and packages to our towns and front doors. Gas station attendants, you fill up our gas in some states in the middle of winter while we stay warm in our cars. Convenient store clerks, you keep the coffee brewing all through the night. Some are saying 'Amen' right now to this one. Church and community volunteers, you sign up for roles that you'll never get the credit for but you do it anyway. I could go on and on. So many people play the background like it's an instrument.
I learned something else from this experience. This is the part that may rock you. The people in the spotlight can only be so good. If this is you, may I suggest that you play the background too. Michael Jackson is arguably the most talented performer of all time. In the 2009 documentary, "This is It", Michael's brilliance on stage is understood because of his brilliance in the studio. Michael invested a lot of time becoming an expert in the background. This helped him understand what enhanced his performance under the spotlight. The Beatles were the same way. This is why the best performers learn all the aspects of their craft. Their goal is to shine brightest under the lights, but to do that, they need to excel in the background. This applies to all of the professions I've listed above and certainly for cleaning company owners. Do you want to shine in the Facebook groups and your local community as the 7 or 8-figure cleaning business with scores of team members and making a difference in the community? If you answered yes, I encourage you to be like Michael Jackson. Get in the field and do everything you expect others to do for you. Become the best in each role, so you can be better in the leadership role.
Have you ever taken time to think of all the people that operate in your background so you can function in the leadership role you have? Please take a moment to list all of these people in your background and thank them.
The Smart Cleaning School Podcast helps cleaning business owners from start-up to the struggling solo to the striving seven-figure get SMARTER in their businesses, reshape their mindset, increase productivity, clear the overwhelm, and get clarity through SMART goal-setting & personal accountability. Ken Carfagno is a lifetime learner and teacher. His mission is to help visionaries make the impact they were meant to make.