I remember a coached that I once worked for asked our players, as a motivational tool, to imagine that the person that they respected the most, was the only one at the game that night. So many of our players imagined their grandfather, or a parent who wasn't able to come to games often, or maybe even a sibling who had passed, and who had never seen them play.
It was a pretty powerful question, in my opinion. I don't know if we played any harder, or if our players did anything particularly special, but I think it was really neat to have our players think about that, and to visualize playing for something outside of the norm. Rather than focusing on everything around us, the "normal" stimuli that often affect our performance and our perception of our performance (for example, the fans, our coach, the officials, and the opposition), we can focus on an Audience of One, and that audience can be someone meaningful, who we can truly pour out for, and we can legitimately care about how they see us play or perform.
I remember doing this when I was coaching. My parents didn't make it to many games, mainly because we lived hours apart, and we rarely played near them. But on the occasions that they did make it to a game, I found myself wanting to be the "most coach" I could be, I wanted to be at my best. I would always ask what they thought about the game, and though I was never direct about it, what I really wanted to know is what they thought about my coaching, if they thought I did a good job.
As much as I value my parent's opinion about the job I'm doing, or if they are proud of the work I'm doing, ultimately, their judgement of my work isn't the most important.
As much as our players may have wanted to please and earn the favor of their grandparents, or parents, or sibling in our imaginary exercise of pretending that their chosen #1 fan was in the stands, ultimately, people shouldn't be who we care MOST about as we carry out our duties.
Please understand, that I'm not ignoring the importance of pleasing others when we work, or the fact that we may need to care about what others think in our given situations. It does matter, what our boss thinks, or what our coach thinks, in that those people can be major decision makers in how our career goes, or what type of review we receive, or how playing time is dolled out.
But, I believe that if we truly set our focus on living, working, and performing as if there were an Audience of One, and that was The One, that our perspective would shift away from trying to gain favor, or look a certain way, or playing to avoid judgement or embarrassment. Instead, our work, play, and interactions, whether they be in front of a large group or a one on one situation, become an act of worship, and a display of thanks, for what has already been done. Jesus takes away the pressure of performance, judgement, and condemnation, that we feel so often in public appearances and in interacting with others.
It's not an easy mindset to adopt, that's for sure. Because as much as we'd like to say that we can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, it's much easier (for me anyways) to feel the presence of a room full of people, or my boss, or the person that I'm sitting across from.
It's easy to get into the trap of feeling like you are on stage, like you are performing in some manner, when you are in front of others. I wonder how our presentations, meetings, and general interactions might change if we shifted our mindset away from this feeling of performing.
Rather than feeling an obligation to perform, we have an opportunity to display the gifts that have been granted us, and to honor the one who has given them.
Just an Audience of One.