A theme is beginning to emerge – call it a mid-life crisis, my upcoming 25th high school reunion (and my emergency highlight to cover up the grey hairs), or a convergence of encounters, but I am noticing with acute awareness how hard it is to be bold in our choices in life. So much gets in our way and honestly, it bums me out. If we know better, what keeps us playing small and why do we want others around us to feel so small? Here are some moments that bring that fear into focus.
Listening to Melissa Rivers in Joan Rivers’ documentary of her 75th year, A Piece of Work, say, "All stand up comics are innately insecure." Then Joan's own comment on NPR's Fresh Air about always being afraid to go on stage. Having said this, Rivers pushes beyond, is fearless, and I love that about her.
Hearing the heartbreaking song, "Breathe," in the Broadway show, In the Heights, in which the character, Nina, who has returned home for the summer, sings about her sadness after not making the grade at college. The 'not fitting in' feeling and lyrics expressing isolation and inadequacy are touching.
Reading Claude Steele’s new book, Whistling Vivaldi And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, and learning more about the research around identity threat. The book's findings reveal how feeling 'less than' (my words for 'stereotype threat') can profoundly affect our performance at school, at work, and ultimately how we live our lives.
This feeling of being 'less than,' being 'shut down,' being on 'personality lockdown' is so prevalent, so human. Unfortunately, we contribute to one another's smallness as well. A little comment, a biting remark. A "shh" or a 'tsk' when someone says something too strong. Those verbals and non-verbals add up. Instead, what if we delighted in others? We presumed potential? We were generous? How liberating would that be?
Here are some motivational moments to help us be bold, gracious and amazing.
Comment by Edward Albee, playwright, on Masterclass, a new documentary series on HBO
in which "a world-class artist talks intimately with a small group of exceptionally talented teenagers." Albee says to these high schoolers, "Trust what is coming out of your head." Amen.
24-year-old singer, Janelle Monae, in her song, Tightrope, says, "I can’t complain about it, I gotta keep my balance, and just keep dancing on it." Watch her move. Listen to her lyrics. Keep dancing.
Cloris Leachman wearing Ugg boots under her long gown at her one-woman show at The Rrazz Room in San Francisco. At 84, she knew what was comfortable and had no worry about what was 'appropriate.' Hurrah.
Here's to being bold and encouraging others to do the same!
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
Here is what I am participating in, reading, and watching in the coming months.
Wilderness Travel – Taking their Out of Africa trip to Kenya this month. Check out their tours. I highly recommend them.
"Two intertwined themes propel this evocative memoir of growing up in the 1950s and '60s by a former drama critic and current op-ed columnist for the New York Times. The first is the pain and confusion of being the child of divorced parents at a time when most families remained intact. The second is how the allure of theater softened that pain and gave the author a new way of understanding the world."
New Works Festival at Theatreworks, Palo Alto, CA - August 7-22, 2010 "An extraordinary opportunity to experience new plays and musicals in their early stages of development, this 3 week audience experience helps shape five new shows for America's future."
Each month I will share with you information about a few of my upcoming trainings.
If I am going to be in your area, contact me so we can say hello, hopefully in person!
Being Generationally Savvy
Center for Education and Professional Development
Stanford Hospital and Clinics
Palo Alto, CA
Being Relationally Savvy
Association of California School Administrators
Region 8 Leadership Conference
San Jose, CA
Having Hard Conversations
Administrative Leadership Retreat
Selma Unified School District
For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.
Until next time,
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