I read somewhere that shyness is another mechanism we use to protect ourselves. Maybe we’ve been hurt, maybe we fear challenge, maybe we play small because we fear change. Whatever our reasons might be, we meet the world with our guard firmly in place.
What’s really going to happen if we remove the guards and lead with vulnerability? I think our openness is what others ultimately connect with.
I just found out that an audience member at a show I was in a few months ago recently took her own life.
I tried hard to remember that night, and to remember her, and the flowers she brought for her friend in the show. I felt badly because I couldn’t quite see her face.
It got me thinking that maybe my concerns around the show with what I might wear and if I hit all the high notes and if I get all the words right — while important— are not what makes a great show.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to present ourselves well, but how many times has my outfit not been quite right, and I had forgot the words, or I missed a step and still, people came up after the show to tell me how moved they were and how much they enjoyed it.
Is that experience any less valuable to them because my fake eyelashes were falling off? If you’ve been singing for any length of time you’ve already figured out there are no “perfect” shows. So now what?
When I heard about that woman, the action she took, I truly felt for her. By all accounts, her life looked great on paper. She sounded quite accomplished. But I’m alive long enough to know even when things look good on the outside there will still be a battle within.
It also got me thinking: What if as performers we lead from an empathic place before we choose songs, before we rehearse, before we give the performance and before we leave the stage to meet the audience?
Leading with empathy is a muscle I’ve had to work, but it’s necessary. I too feel the need to protect myself most of the time and I know it doesn’t really serve me in my relationships or with my audience. It’s a hard habit to break, but empathy is what lead me to create my podcast.
How has empathy informed your work? Answer in the comments section below.