All I need to know I learned in Karaoke

I love to sing. I always have. I sing in the car, at home and even in public.

My wife, bless her heart, hears more of my singing than anyone else. I say “bless her heart” for two reasons: she appreciates my voice, and she endures a lot of impromptu serenades. I try to find as many harmless ways to express myself as I can, for my own personal fulfillment, as well as our collective sanity.

Over the past couple years, one outlet has been karaoke. The experience of getting up and performing in front of strangers has helped drive home an important life lesson:

Whatever you do, put your heart into it.

I didn’t wait for someone to tell me I was a good singer to sing. I did it because I love singing. It’s one of those things that lights me up like a candle inside a Jack O’ Lantern. There are a few other pursuits — writing, building things or taking things apart to see how they work — that have a similar effect on me. I may or may not be good at any of these things, but that’s not the point. I thrive when I’m engaging in these activities.

In karaoke, people who love singing but can’t carry a tune are often more entertaining than great singers who would rather be elsewhere. And I’m sure they’re having more fun, too. If you have a choice between talent and passion, don’t assume talent will win. Often it doesn’t. If you need an example, ask yourself which army won the American Revolution. Was it the talented professionals or the ragtag amateurs with passion?

If you have talent, it’s not enough. You have to go all out. Whether you’re tackling your life’s work or an amateur cover of a hit song, tentatively whispering into the microphone is usually a waste of time. A half-hearted attempt will never be as satisfying as a full-throated rendition.

So why not let loose and see what happens?