Who are you really? Who are you when you are in the dark… when no-one is looking….?
When I first heard this question from Michael Neill (my personal model for coaching excellence) I smiled to myself. Then I noticed the goose-bumps. And then I began to wonder……who am I really?
Sure, I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter, a colleague, a friend and all those other tags that attach to us over time. But that’s not who I am. Those are the representations I have accrued in our social structure over the last 50+ years I’ve spent on this earth. Lots of labels!! But I am not quite sure that those labels represent MY true identity.
Finding My Identity
First, let me tell you what I am not. I’m not is a singer. I’m completely tone deaf. I can’t hold a note; my singing would turn milk sour. Don’t get me wrong, I love to sing, but I do it in the car, or in the shower, or when nobody else is around to suffer the horrible sounds coming from my throat. Even my husband turns up the radio volume if I start to sing along to something when he is around.
“I am not a singer.” Or at least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself for most of my life.
As a kid, my mum would ask me to sing for her, telling me how lovely it sounded. Although she later told me she was tone deaf and I knew her singing voice was a bit ropey. Either way, I really enjoyed singing to her. But my mind would sometimes wander. It made my singing even worse. I was in the junior school choir, my young imagination going to all sorts of wonderful places evoked in the songs – I had no idea that Quinquereme of Nineveh was from a John Masefield poem, I was simply entranced by the story of the 3 ships on their journeys.
In the local Salvation Army choir my friend and I would really belt out the jolly hymns and songs of praise whilst rattling our tambourines with gay abandon as we celebrated the uplifting music.
Soon afterwards I went to senior school and tried out for the choir, but they didn’t want me – or at least that’s what I assume, since I can’t recall the session, only that I wasn’t in the choir. Maybe one day my adult brain will remember what my 11 year old mind experienced at some point, but so far it’s a blank.
It may not have been so traumatic, since I did find the courage to go into one of those “record your own record” booths. How could I not go do my own recording? I’m from Liverpool and it was the 1960’s after all. I put my money into the slot and cut my one and only disc – a bit like the Tenacious D video for “Tribute”, but without the devil….or the guitar….
Petula Clark was very popular at the time (Tenacious D probably not having been born yet) and I recorded her song “Downtown”. Proudly I took my vinyl disc home and played it on the record turntable – it sounded flat and out of tune, so I vowed that it would never see the light of day again.
Of course, you can always rely on your mother to embarrass you in your teenage years and mine decided to play the disc for my first real boyfriend.
Embarrassed? I was HORRIFIED!!!
I screeched at her. I RIPPED the disc off the turntable and hid it somewhere she would never find it again. Aaaggghhhhh!!! Later I took a rusty nail and mercilessly scratched the plastic so it could NEVER AGAIN be used to torture anyone’s ears – or make me feel such an idiot.
With this wealth of evidence growing to support the fact that I simply couldn’t sing a note in tune, I fed this belief with lots of other convincing experiences over the years and I had a 100% etched-in-stone- limiting belief – it was all mine and nobody was going to take it from me. I would stick with singing in the car, in the shower, around the house when it was empty, and so on. It was a small price to pay for continuing to do something I loved to do.
And then in 2007 I found out that I had been adopted as a baby and that my genetic parents were a singer and a pianist/composer.
Hmmmm……THAT was interesting……I had a whole new history to play with…..and I could invent pretty much all of it
After a while I looked in my local yellow pages and found a tutor for voice and piano. I told her the snapshot version of my story and made an appointment to see her. She was interested to hear that I can find my way around a piano by ear (although I am still on baby steps for this one, as there is a limit to what you want to play with two fingers only….)
I was more than surprised to do the breathing and scales exercises with her direction to stumble into a new voice that I really didn’t know I had. Apparently because I sang every day (to myself, of course), I’d kept the muscles of my vocal chords reasonably fit and I had 2 octaves of very good notes.
So now I don’t care if my husband turns up the volume on the radio (he’s a bit deaf anyway). I’m going to sing my heart out when I feel like it. Now he uses my singing as a measure of how good I’m feeling with life and that tells him all is right with the world. New communications!!
Then I started to look around and see if there were any other areas in my life where I might have been holding back because of some limiting belief, or fear. Yes, there are a couple more, but those are for another day….
So now, in the dark, I can add a new tag: I am a singer! Well, I’m an ok singer. And if I practice enough, I might even be able to play the piano properly some day. How cool is that?
Do you have any beliefs that might be holding you back from realising a dream – or maybe even frustrating your leadership goals in some area? Have you ever observed that in a team member – knowing they can achieve something magnificent if they’d only let go, or wondering how best to guide them to their greatness? Can you think of ways you might challenge those limiting beliefs in yourself or your team?
Who are you – really? Who are you in the dark, when nobody else is looking?
Joy Griffiths is Director and Owner of Joyous Solutions Ltd
She helps clients with Executive Coaching and Business Development
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Skype: joy.griffithsjsl | +44 7884 311081
Image Sources: sweetspot.ca,momgadget.com, i253.photobucket.com, msnbcmedia.msn.com
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Filed under: Servant Leadership