Sunday, August 30, 2009

Leading With Your Strengths

Sunday musings...

As the fall approaches and we prepare for a new season, many questions arise:
Am I good enough?
Am I doing the right thing?
How do I get motivated?
Am I too fat?
Am I singing well enough?
Do I need a new agent?
How do I get a callback?

and on and on and on...

We are never "there".  We are always striving!  We should build our craft and our presentation to a certain level of professionalism to audition to be sure, but no matter what level that is, we are still learning, growing and developing as artists.

It's very easy to lean on the negative, or what still needs to get done; very easy for us to find excuses NOT to DO.

My goal for this fall for myself, and for my mentoring of my students is to lead with my strengths, and help those that work with me to find their strengths and lead from there as well!

It's so easy to find something wrong. It find someone "better".  Well, guess what, there is always going to be somebody who is more talented, more prepared, more more more, if we constantly look outward.

What about looking inward and ACCEPTING who is there?  That doesn't mean we don't keep WORKING to develop the potential within, but accepting what we see and learning to embrace the positive and the strength of who we are RIGHT NOW and what we have to offer is one of the most important lessons we have.

I am guilty of it too - not enjoying the fruits of your labor; the garden you have culled; smelling the roses along the way.  Sometimes I am so busy "journeying" I forget to ENJOY WHY and see that the building I am DOING and HAVE DONE while I continue to move along the path.

I encourage you to join me on this personal journey.  MAKE IT PERSONAL.

What do you do well RIGHT NOW?  What is STRONG, COMMITTED and TRUE?

There are many levels to consider, and all those levels need to be acknowledged and observed.

You can categorize as "strength" and as "still growing" if you want!  Even though the strengths keep growing too!!!

Are you comfortable meeting people? Being around people? Working with people? How do people RESPOND to you - not to your talent - to YOU?  Is this a strength? Or is this still growing?

How is your technique?
How is your stage deportment?
How is your narrative?
How is your musicality?
How are your languages?
What repertoire is a strong suit? What repertoire is still growing?
Which genres appeal to you? Which genres are strengths? Why?

These are only a few questions you can begin with.  Be creative!  Find them ALL and recognize change is constant and life is in motion, therefore change needs to be embraced and recognized as a GOOD thing!

As you discover your strengths, ask WHY.  It gives you a basis of decision.  Again, just because you WANT it doesn't make it so.  Finding your strengths and WHY it is a strength creates another level of honesty with self, and another level of honesty creates  another level of authenticity in you as a human being, as an artist and as a performer.

Perhaps as we become further evolved in this process the "wants" begin to dim - and the "reals" emerge with clearer focus and vitality!  And what is actually there is exciting and true and motivates us further to claim the strength of the truth!!

Discover the truth of those strengths.  Those strengths can pivot you into a direction that is uniquely yours and uniquely you.

Often, if we are unclear we become clouded.  When we become clouded, we are confused. When we become confused we become negative and fearful and we begin a downward spiral of self-loathing, self-abuse, criticism, and negativity that creates a black hole.  

We must embrace clarity.  With clarity comes ANSWERS.  With answers comes knowledge. With knowledge comes FREEDOM!  Freedom to BE WHO WE ARE.  Freedom to EXPRESS WHO WE ARE BECOMING!  Freedom to be true to ourselves, to others, to our craft, and to our discipline.

There is no room in the artist's psyche for fear. Trust me. Fear is the LAST thing we need.  Self-observation and self-doubt, yes; fear - no.  We must be willing and able to ask the hard and difficult questions.  To recognize what we do well, and what others do well.  Once we put this in perspective, it is almost a relief that we don't have to be everything to everybody!!!

What do you love to do? Do you do it well? Is it a strength? Are you doing it because it is a strength or are you doing it for another reason? What is that reason? FIND IT! If you KNOW you grow. You will make the choices and decisions that are right for you.

You can only lead with your strengths once you truly know what they are.  You can categorize them into artistic, creative, business and human categories if you want to begin to find them thoroughly and clearly.  Often as artists, things become nebulous and esoteric and the clarity of self becomes very murky.  We are responsible to find that clarity.  To seek it out and claim it.

Notice I did not say, what are your weaknesses.  I do not use that word.  
As we discover our strengths, our vulnerabilities will be more protected. Vulnerabilities are not weaknesses.  I prefer to have strengths, vulnerabilities (which often can become stronger with recognition) and things that I just don't excel in or things others are stronger at.  It doesn't make it a weakness. It just isn't a strength.

FIND YOUR STRENGTHS.  LEAD WITH THEM. NURTURE THEM.  A strength isn't necessarily something that is fully formed yet. So DEVELOP IT!!!!  If you are a singer and your strength is your ability to create beautiful sound - then STUDY AND DEVELOP IT! Don't just say it's good enough!  If your strength is your ability to tell a story through song - then develop that through the right repertoire, classes and study to develop it further.  If you have a an aptitude for languages THEN LEARN THEM!!!

And on and on it goes...

Do you have great people skills? Then develop them further!! Where will it lead you? 

Potential is NOTHING but potential unless you DEVELOP IT.  CLAIM IT. DARE TO MAKE IT YOURS!!!!!!!!!!

Potential only becomes a strength once it is acknowledged and worked and used and developed.

Do not apologize for your strengths!  EMBRACE THEM!

Claim the you that is growing, developing and has the potential to be AMAZING!  Claim the potential of your strengths to be STRONG!

Lead with your ability and your truth.  Lead with the strength of you!


  1. I once saw a quote by Lucille Ball that said something like "It's more important to know your weaknesses than your strengths," and it really rubbed me the wrong way. Doesn't that lead to self-defeating tendencies? Of course I'm guilty of it anyway...

  2. I think I know what she means - because we must be AWARE of our FULL selves...too many in the business think they should be here. They should not. They are deceiving themselves. Likewise, if we dwell on the weaknesses we make excuses for the strengths...ain't life grand?!