Happy New Year!
These moments when we mark transitions can be both helpful and not helpful.
It’s helpful to think about what I want more or and what I want less of in the New Year, but it’s not helpful if I believe that somehow I’m going to be a different person.
If we really want to change our experience of ourselves in the world, we don’t need to wait until the new year. We could start right anytime.
I recently watched the Peter Jackson documentary Get Back on Disney, and I found it mesmerizing (and maybe a little cringy). It reminded me of an English class that I took in college where we looked at some first drafts of John Keat’s famous poems. It was fascinating to see how an average poem could become a great poem just by eliminating a few extra words or by simply changing one word. Keats was a favorite poet of mine in college, but I had mistakenly carried the illusion that he had birthed those poems whole. That’s not how creativity works. We see this on display with the Beatles documentary.
The eight hours of film that Jackson pulled together for his documentary is a brilliant testimony to the creative process. As a friend recently told me, anyone who has been in a band can relate to the mixture of boredom and goofiness on display. It’s fascinating to see the Beatles as friends, bandmates, and human beings with all their flaws, jealousies, and vanity. Even so, that’s not what I wanted to write about today. What I want to talk about is George Harrison.
“I’m just gonna do me.”
There’s a moment in the third episode where George confides in John that he just wants to sing his own songs on his own album.
George brings it up in his elliptical, passive way that it’s almost difficult to see that this is the moment when the Beatles broke up. He’s so genuine and vulnerable, that I had to stop it and rewind a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t mistaking it. Here’s a Beatle, one of the most famous musicians in the world, yearning to express himself as himself.
Me too, George. Me too.
What does it mean to be yourself? What does it mean to express yourself to the world?
How do you, “do you”?
I think that this is ultimately the work that I see in my coaching and in my own life. What does it mean to express myself as myself? Why is it so difficult sometimes to just be me?
What makes a great leader and communicator?
I think that we know it more by how we experience that person than by any set of criteria we might come up with.
Any person, however, who is not willing to lead from a place of self-trust and self-acceptance will have difficulty connecting with an audience.
Most of us are too busy watching ourselves to be able to speak with a natural ease and openness. We are too aware of how we might be perceived. We lack self-trust.
What is your relationship to embarrassment?
Most people fear being exposed. We hide behind masks and performances of ourselves. We guard against being seen.
This kind of communication leads to a kind of self-conscious, controlled style of communication.
The more willing we are to communicate and lead from a place of self-love, and self-acceptance, the easier it is to communicate with clarity, influence, and power.
What if we were all a little braver?
What if we were a little more free to be ourselves?
What if you were curious about what you want to say?
Ask yourself, what is my intent? What do I want to have happen?
Make some space for you to explore your own voice, find the limits of your own mask, and let those around you see you and hear you as you are.
Be like George and lay claim to your right to yourself. Discover what you have to say and whatever is within you, yearning to get out.
Take the chance to be you, and just by doing that you give the rest of us a little more space, a little more invitation to be ourselves.
Sing off-key, write bad poetry, dance without rhythm, but allow yourself to express whatever is in you.
Just like John Keats and the Beatles, all great forms of expression came from the tiniest impulse to say something, to communicate something deep within. (And expect it to get messy.)
Whatever you do, do it as yourself.
We are waiting.
Note: In 2022 I will be hosting a Voice workshop.
The first workshop is limited to eight people and will be for women only. Patricia Mulholland, who has spent years teaching voice and public speaking with the Ariel Group, as well as doing music therapy through her own program, will teach the class.
You can expect more details soon, but the plan right now is to do something in March. (Difficult to make plans these days, isn’t it?)
This is a fabulous opportunity for anyone interested in gaining confidence and presence through voice work. If you’re interested, please send me a note.