Last year, I was working with a singer struggling to capture her best performance on a new record. She was -- and is -- a truly great singer, though at the time, she had a tendency to overthink and, as a result, underperform.
Her issues weren't a matter of inadequate technique, training, or talent. Rather, like so many of us, it was her choice of safety over bravery that led to less-than-ideal results and a sense of dissatisfaction.
Not that she recognized the source of her frustration. When we are stuck in safety, we confuse the fatigue of simultaneously trying for and resisting our goals with the energy and effort that would otherwise be going powerfully toward achieving them.
Out of a desire to illustrate what language could not, I asked my client to watch the video of Beyoncé's song "I Was Here", which the artist had just premiered at the United Nations on World Humanitarian Day.
The video had the desired effect. I witnessed my client move through observation, judgment, and jealousy, and finally, into admiration and awe. Tears streaming her face as the song concluded, she whispered: "She looks like she's fighting for her life..."
After wiping my own tears away, I took her hands in mine and asked whether she had ever fought so hard and given that much to her own performances or recording projects. Or to anything in her life, for that matter. And whether she would be willing to get out of the way whatever was in the way of her doing so.
The answer, in words and soon after in her actions, was an unequivocal yes. Something changed in my client that day, and her record, subsequent performances, and career have since been nothing short of incredible. More importantly, her way of being shifted; trading in her resignation and judgment of herself and others, she has become someone who truly enjoys what she does and is honored by the opportunity to share her passion and gifts with others.
This amazing woman came to mind last Sunday as I watched the Super Bowl halftime show. I was once again blown away by Beyoncé's extraordinary talent and commitment, her tireless work ethic and determination to bring her 'A game' to everything she does.
It is a lesson for us all, whatever we do for a living, whatever our passion in life: to give our best, our absolute all, to everything we do.
How many of us can say that we do this? What's more, how often do we expect extraordinary results while giving only ordinary effort?
Certainly, fears and doubts step in. Certainly, the desire to look good seeks to stop us from taking bold and brave action. Yet the gnawing anxiety and lack of satisfaction that come from a life resisted, justified, and half-lived is so much more exhausting and unfulfilling than putting yourself out there, taking risks, and really living.
And at the end of the day, every day, that is indeed the choice we are free to make... whether we will really fight for the life that we have been given or merely survive.
Thanks to Beyoncé, my clients, and every man, woman, and child who again and again fully express who they are in the world and make a difference. You are an inspiration to us all. May we learn to be wise and humble enough to follow your lead.
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