Friday, March 13, 2015

Lessons From Rock Climbing

So this is me scaling that rock face. The creative, music geek, NON-athletic, "I love the outdoors but on MY terms" person. To say this is NOT my thing is an understatement. Then several years ago I find myself with an Outward Bound requirement for my year in the Waccamaw American Leadership Forum (WALF). It was not an option, so I powered through 5 days in the woods, sans tents, showers or toilets, with the top leaders in our region.

Guess what?

It was one of the most profound experiences of my life! The opportunities for learning about myself presented themselves with every rock I climbed, every pass I navigated, every group rehash session, every knot I tied, and on and on.......

The lessons from the mountain were endurance and strength and recovery and stamina and courage and cooperation and communion and self-reliance and adaptability and most of all......letting go.......
That moment in this picture, captured for perpetuity, was the exact moment when a friend on the ground shouted "come on Annette, get your ass off the wall, stop clinging"!! I pushed away and made it to the top. It hurt, I was bruised and battered and crying (sobbing really), but I did it and that sense of personal achievement, the euphoria of knowing you made it through something that was very, very difficult IS empowerment.

Have YOU scaled a rock and arrived bruised and battered but in one piece knowing that you did it and absolutely NO ONE can take that away??

We shall not cease from exploration, 
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. 
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Goo Goo for Gaga.....A Few of My Favorite Things!

The Monday following the Academy Awards my social channels were a “twitter” with reactions to Lady Gaga’s performance. They ranged from incredulity to awe. I even did a little market research and asked my friends to weigh in on whether they loved it or hated it.

Some of the reactions were:
She's no Julie Andrews.
She keeps reinventing herself.
There is nothing she can't do.
Great job but the tattoos were a distraction.
She can ACTUALLY sing!
So glad she kept it simple. I was worried she would do something outrageous.

It was so much fun to read the diversity of reactions. So much so that I wanted to share a few of my own take aways from this performance that created such a stir!!

Be Audacious!

By definition the word audacious means "showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks". When LG agreed to do this performance there was certainly risk because I mean, really, she was going to sing some of the most beloved repertoire in American music history. Not only that, but she was the segue to Julie Andrews for goodness sake. That's like introducing the Queen or something. But it was obviously a risk worth taking. It was bold and she took it on with the same passion she has approached everything in her career.

In business or in life, what risks have you taken lately? Are you stuck in the same old rut? Are you comfortable staying where you are or are you willing to make a surprising, bold move? What would it take for you to be audacious???  

Be Surprising.

I said surprising, not shocking. We all know that LG can be shocking, but in the case of this performance she was delightfully surprising. We sat still for 5 minutes waiting for it and it never came. Maybe THAT was her "shock" for the evening. So why would you settle for being formulaic when you can be surprising. Just when someone thinks they have you or your organization figured out that's the time to step out and shine in a new and brilliant way. Have them watching you closely just wondering what you will surprise them with next!

Be Authentic.

Let's talk about tattoos. LG has loads of them. Anyone who has followed her work has seen the tats. A lot of the reactions I heard were complimentary and then.........but those tattoos. Well, they are a part of her right? She made a commitment to making them part of her appearance. She is certainly not ashamed about that choice. If she was afraid of who she is then the gown would have not only been tasteful (which it was), but would have covered the skin art. So she combined both in an effort that was at the same time tasteful AND real. It worked!!

What are you covering up because you are afraid others might not accept you? What are the things about your work or your organization that you fear may be perceived as flaws? Take a long look. If you are trying to cover up because you are concerned about acceptance then maybe there are things that need to be revised or changed. First know who you are and then BE who you are!!

Embrace Challenge.

LG is actually so much more than what people know. She studied classical piano, did musical theatre in high school, went to NYU to continue that study, is an accomplished song writer. But this. This was a challenge that not every singer, even of such star magnitude or ability, would ever agree to take on. Once having accepted the challenge she studied every day with a vocal coach for six months in preparation for the event. She took the challenge, owned her capacity for the performance and then applied herself with will, determination and hard work. She didn't work hard to BE Julie Andrews (NO ONE could do that). But she did take on the challenge to offer the best possible version of herself in a unique opportunity to pay tribute to an industry icon.

When you are presented with something that will stretch you professionally, first understand your capacity, then understand the relevance of the challenge, then know that you are able to expand into the challenge and grow from the experience. Be ready to say "challenge accepted"!

Use Your Influence.

So let's talk about marketing genius. LG is 28 years old and she has created a brand that everyone knows. That is pretty darn remarkable. Now let's talk about the fact that she has recently paired her brand with the iconic balladeer Tony Bennett to bring standards to her fan base. And NOW she has used her brand influence to showcase a genre to a generation that might care less about the living art that is American musical theater. There were a lot of reactions that included the notion that she was "reinventing" herself with this performance. It seems to me more a case of having "invented" a brand that is so strong that it has created a space for her to emerge fully and completely as who she is AND a brand that is so recognizable that it allows her to bring musical diversity into her circle of influence!! 

When is the last time you reflected on your brand and just what opportunities you may have to influence a group that wouldn't know otherwise. What do others look to you for and how could you use that space to introduce something new or innovative or important to a group that might not otherwise listen? Have you created a solid space in your circle of influence that allows you, your business or your organization to become or BE exactly who you wish to be? 

I am a classically trained singer. That was my career for 18 years. I am a lover of all music from Monteverdi to Motown and happen to be a big Lady Gaga fan. All that aside, I am a HUGE fan of people who are willing to be themselves, to take risks and to present a passion for their work that is unapologetic and palpable.

Bravissimo Gaga! Thanks for the business and life tips!! 
Keep on climbing mountains and fording streams!!!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Membership Monday, March 2, 2015

Membership Monday! Your weekly tip for living the life of a membership management professional!!