I've been having a wonderful conversation with my friend and colleague Kate Sawert about confidence and competition. The struggle to both attain and maintain the former… the dual-edge sword of motivation and isolation that the latter bears.
In sitting down today to share some of what we've learned and discovered together, I was struck by the overlap of many ideas I've had for future blogs, as well as themes from my past ones. The topics vary, but a fundamental issue binds them together.
That issue is Scarcity-Based Thinking… a mentality that says there's a limited amount of time, money and love to go around… that there’s a restricted amount of opportunity, talent, success and power in the world. That life is a game of chasing, rather than creating; of reacting rather than enacting… that there is no such thing as 'Too Good to be True'… that indeed, 'Something’s Always Gotta Give'.
In my studio, this way of thinking presents itself in what I call the 'Either/Or mentality'. The choice that seemingly needs to be made between Concentration and Joy. Consciously Understanding and Intuitively Knowing. Technique and Abandon. Thinking and Singing.
I see musical geniuses refusing to attempt to develop their technical minds for fear of somehow detracting from their creative gifts. Conservatory-trained singers clinging to their technical understanding of music, rather than considering that an entirely new way of experiencing and sharing that sacred language might exist…
This scarcity dance is not only performed by singers and musicians, but by all of us. It's in the water… it's our second National Anthem, and we start drinking the Kool-Aid and singing along when we're very young: Are you a real man, or a pansy? Are you going to be spiritually or financially fulfilled? Are you a professional or an artist? Successful or a dreamer? What one thing are you?
For women, the choice we're asked to make at a very early age is whether we're Smart or Pretty. Logically, we know as we get older that we can be both. Intellectually, we're aware of the mind-tricks of the media and society. Publically, we encourage each other to be both, demand recognition of both, adore both in ourselves.
But in our quiet moments, in the center of our beings, most of us are still stuck clinging to the one that we chose long ago to root our confidence, while aching for and envying in others the one we're certain we lack.
A corporate client and I were exploring this issue a couple of weeks ago. A beautiful, feminine, classy woman, she had worked her way up the ranks and taken over the top role in her firm. While raising a family. And going to graduate school. And starting a charitable organization. And sitting on five corporate boards. And happily and meaningfully partnering with her husband of 25 years.
Still, she struggles with simultaneously wanting to enjoy her sensuality and femininity, and feeling guilty for what have always been and continue to be constant hindrances in the workplace. Struggles with the 'opposing desires' of wanting to be sexy and feminine, and respected, admired and heeded.
We can put a person on the moon. We can create symphonies of the most beautiful music. We can cure disease, graft skin, clone animals…
… why have we yet to cure the world and ourselves of the ridiculous notion of Scarcity?
Contrary to the fear-filled, power-hoarding voices that tell us we need to divide and conquer the best of what we are, the world- and we- are temples of abundance that only find peace in a state of balance. Yin and Yang, dark and light. Without one, the entire system falls.
Imagine it. Women feeling smart and sexy, and demanding respect for both aspects of themselves, from themselves and others. Men as comfortable with their emotional sides as their masculinity, and the educational and cultural systems finally holding accountable the schoolyard bullies and those that raise them. Young adults seeking economic and spiritual enlightenment… becoming artists in any and every profession.
Being technically flawless and vocally liberated.
That would be one giant leap for mankind.