Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Got Hecklers?

“The guitar’s all very well John, but you’ll never make a living out of it.”
-John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi

So you want to be yourself, you say? Some advice. Don’t tell Thomas…that doubting little bugger.

Change-makers, artists, and those with a untamed spirit of adventure…have all been there. It goes something like this: A vision starts to sizzle deep within the imagination. We are excited by this vision - to such an elevated degree - it feels as though we have just birthed new life into the world. But instead of protecting this life, we are simply overcome with excitement – and soon, without reason or validity, we share it with the very next person we see.

Then, we wait. We watch. We listen.

And, like so many times before, a tsunami of doubt unfurls in their eyes and we are now, not only enveloped by all the warmth and enthusiasm of a wince - but we are also…afraid.

Our profound world-changing once again.

Why do we embrace counter intuition…when it comes to matters of authenticity? Why do we run to the people who will most likely “heckle” our life’s purpose and even frighten us from our very own dreams?

Because, perhaps, they are our oldest friends, our co-workers or even our family. Although they may know and love us - the flesh & bones version of us – they may not know the us bubbling far beneath the surface - the us that has not yet birthed from our imagination.

And after twenty years of winces, blank stares, and “huh?” (mind you this is coming from a woman who once gave puppet shows from the trunk of her car)..…I confidently impart these words of wisdom:

What anyone (cousin Bob, Auntie May, or even dear chum Lucy Loo) thinks of your ideas, goals, and dreams…does not matter in the least.

It is your job to be you - and not your job to transform a crop of cynics into your personal fan base. You see, "devil’s advocates" certainly have their place in the world (like strategic war planning and high-risk surgery) but they most certainly do not have a place in the expression of dreams.

Moreover, there is an entire community out there...counting on you to be yourself.

In fact, they've been waiting for you...holding the space while you explore your instincts, compose your vision...and srew it up as many times as required - until you get it just right. After all, they are expecting your freshest ideas, your finest work; they are your tribe; your audience; your ticket to a life above the clouds of doubt. These people, whom I like to call “angel’s advocates,” do not need convincing that you are gifted and unique. Mostly, they are just grateful to have finally found you. They are with whom you share your light. Not the “yes but,” “sounds risky,” and “when are you getting a real job?” crowd.

Got it?

Just the other day I received a charming note of gratitude from a total stranger.  He told me that he felt richer for having read my work and kindly asked that I keep speaking. I have never met this man and the odds are I never will. (By his particular phrasing, my assumption is that he resides on the other side of the world.) But, somehow, this stranger, has become one of the biggest supporters of my life’s work.  He is my angel’s advocate; a welcome member of the tribe.

And I might share that a few years ago, when I told my mom I wanted to make a living writing essays, books and articles about people & ideas that change the world, her immediate response was “how are the benefits?” (sorry mom…the answer is still the same).

She loves me, but I have finally accepted, like Aunt Mimi, she doesn’t really get me …and like John Lennon, I love her anyway.