I worked with a wonderful singer/songwriter in London last week, who came to me with a list of problems. He wasn’t sure about his range or his tone, whether his songs were in the right key… Whether he was recording them correctly, whether his record is ready to be released.
Is he a tenor or a baritone? Is he singing too loudly? Does he sound powerful or screechy? Should he even be singing at all? Is this a waste of time?
I listened. And then I asked him to do two things:
- First, I asked him to stop apologizing. No more explaining, qualifying, or analyzing. No more wondering, hedging, or reasoning. No more ‘but-what-if’-ing. No more anything.
- Second, I asked him to sing, not only like his life depended on it, but like someone else’s did as well. I asked him to imagine a room full of kids at St. Jude’s hospital sitting in a room, waiting for him to sing. That that was their greatest wish—to hear him sing. This song. Right here. Right now.
He listened. And then he picked up his guitar, paused, and sang. More than that, he created magic. The hairs on my arms stood on end and tears filled my eyes. Every problem he thought he had, technical and otherwise, disappeared. Life swept into that room.
You don’t have to be a singer to have the same experience. The noise in all of our heads—our fears, our logic… our excuses, our ‘intelligence’—usually does more to stop us than to further us along the path toward what we want. It silences our souls and stops the music from emerging. It’s a straitjacket that keeps out life and love and keeps us from being alive.
What a privilege it was to experience that moment today, that rebirth. What an opportunity it is for me, and for all of us, to learn and be reminded of those same lessons, and to use them as guideposts along our own journeys.
Take these words to heart. You know in yours that they’re true. Be alive. Be here. Sing. Share yourself. It’s really that easy. Everything else is noise.