I just spent a brilliant weekend in Sydney, Australia where I was reminded of some important lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1 – There is real relational potency in being able to share your personal story well. It makes forming new connections significantly easier. Like a little oil on a cog, a clear picture of your life narrative makes slipping into a smooth conversational rhythm seem that much more natural. Knowing your story means being aware of the parts you’re comfortable being vulnerable with and being able to share where your genuine passion lies.
2 – Everyone has a story but it might just take a few warm-ups to get to it. Fight the urge to write people off if they fail to fire the first time you meet them. First impressions aren’t always accurate and if I was never given the chance to loosen up in a conversation, I would never be known by anyone. Remember everyone has gold to share. Just because it’s not easy to spot doesn’t mean it’s not there.
3 – Relax, be conscious of the moment, and don’t trust everything you feel. Easier said than done, right!
Sometimes feelings of awkwardness, insecurity, or just plan tiredness, hinder us from embracing positive new experiences. Meeting new people can sometimes feel this way for me. But when I don’t dwell on how I’m feeling and instead focus on finding the gold in someone else, I’m always more than fine.
Make stepping out of your comfort zone, your comfort zone. It might be turning a stranger into a friend, committing to write a book, or facilitating a workshop, but whatever it is, as soon as you let go of the idea that “failure to perform is fatal“, you can start to enjoy the buzz that comes from taking on something new and reap the long-term payoff of growing your capacity to live wide awake.
Have you ever made a pact just between you and your maker – an “if you do” “I will” promise?
Perhaps in a desperate time you’ve whispered a proposal that if you could just be spared, given another shot, shown just a little bit of favour that you’ll do better on the next time around?
Chancing your hand for a bit of leniency in trying circumstances.
Searching for a little bit of grace.
For the many times I’ve found myself there, I’m always aware that:
A) It’s usually on myself that I’m in the predicament I’m in; and,
B) I’ve already been down the same road before.
It’s never a comfortable feeling to be aware you’ve made the same avoidable misjudgment over and again.
Just as well the one at other end of the bargain seems to have some really deep pockets when it comes to dishing out second chances.
In 1959, after being recognised as one of the greatest filmmakers the time, Alfred Hitchcock had to mortgage his home to fund his next film, Psycho. Fed up of the film conventions as they were, Hitchcock wanted to be more experimental and daring.
Even as one of the most famous and respected directors in Hollywood, Hitchcock’s Psycho was initially shunned by movie studios as it pushed boundaries and social conventions thought to risky for film at the time. We may not think anything of Hitchcock’s techniques used to suggest murder and sex, but at the time they shook good taste sensibilities. So Hitchcock undertook the project at his own risk so his vision could be realised.
Psycho prevailed in the end, both commercially and critically, and is still regarded as one of Hitchcock’s best films.
Even in light of Hitchcock’s “greatness” the fear of the unknown and the untested was more powerful than his credibility at his craft. But for Hitchcock’s own resolve, it’s possible no one would have adapted Psycho into one of the greatest films of all time.
Psycho serves as a reminder that holding back on your groundbreaking ideas until you’ve pleased others enough to be credible isn’t the golden ticket it seems. Whenever your vision requires someone else to take a leap of faith, the best – and perhaps only way – to get them to come willingly is if you are the first to take it. Moreover, if you’re not prepared to move first and throw your own hat over the fence, then what right do you have to ask it of another?
The start gun cracks.
The horde blots.
There I am, fully aware that I’m out of place, with no right to be standing next to the pros. But I’m there nonetheless and though I try to restrain myself, I’m swept up at the pointy end of a surging mass of 10000 people.
Despite being consciously aware that the leading group will draw me into running a pace beyond my ability, I can’t help but be effected by their lead. In the shroud of the leading pack, any chance of finding my individual rhythm or feeling out my own measure is overwhelmed by their more powerful collective movement.
Eventually the leaders leave the rest of us in their dust, and the roar of feet dashing against pavement settles into a consistent cadence. I start to hear myself again and zone in on my own attack strategy on the finish line.
The movement of the mass is commanding and compelling. This power can help us thrive, pulling and pushing us towards great feats we otherwise would miss (I set a person best in the race). The trick though is to realise the inevitability of being effected by the surge. It’s then up to each us to make sure we understand who we’re following and if/when it’s time to cut loose and make our way.
It’s sounds like a dichotomy but be the individual that’s part of a movement.
“In the age of technology, with the ability to simulate and manipulate anything, how do we maintain being human?”
Dave Grohl, Sound City.
Here’s how I think we answer that:
Choosing to stay within our natural limitations (available time, emotional energy, our talent/ skill in the present moment) forces us to concentrate on only the most important things about what we are doing. Perhaps counter intuitively by choosing to stay within certain restraints we actually sharpen ourselves. The main reason for this is that by not having access to everything, we are left to commit to a particular way, thought, idea or belief about the best way to do something.
There’s not returning to redubbed, touched up, or edited out.
It’s at these moments when we have to decide and make things singular that we execute the very essence of human creativity – choice.
To maintain our humanity in the face of ‘perfecting technology’ we must see that our individual finite ability – that undoubtedly leads to imperfections – is not an error to be smoothed out later, but is in fact an honest and beautiful expression of life. Something which we should seek to preserve.
To maintain being human then means to accept mistakes and irregularities at our attempts at greatness as the hallmarks of our uniqueness. Something to be celebrated, not hidden.
No two artists paint in the same way. This is by design.