Today’s the Boston Marathon.
How many it’s-not-a-sprint-it’s-a-marathon 26.2 sticker clichés can you pull up?
I get the whole long-haul wisdom of the massive distance race imagery. The thing about this analogy is that it’s filled with stressful givens–
🏃🏾♂️There’s a slew of lean game-face runners with their numbers pinned to their shirts ready to pound you into the pavement.
⏱It’s a one-time event.
🛌There are no nights of sleep involved (or other forms of rest).
🏆There can only be one winner.
Enter your life as an artist and/or singer. You look around at all the create-y people around you, and someone said “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” and not only do you think there’s a race, but you think y’all are competing for the same finish line.
A ridiculously talented and beauty-hearted student came to their lesson this week, and when I asked them what they were liking about school, they said, “The people.” 🙌
When I asked them what was tough, they said, “Feeling like I have to catch up.” 😥
Number one I was so grateful this student opened up and shared this with me. We took a few minutes to play around with this thought—I have to catch up.
The student was so game and willing. We took that thought–I have to catch up— and asked, “Is that true?”
It was a gift for me to watch this singer go right inside to their heart to see what the answer might be. Very quickly, I saw the student’s face open like sunshine peaking behind a cloud.
They told me there was nothing to catch up to, nothing to compete with, nothing to do but do their stuff and learn their things.
And as they imagined their peers succeeding, a bubbly joy fizzed up in the room.
Then they sang their song, and I freakin cried because their heart was so wide open and beautiful. I have the best job.
When I compete, I contract. I compare. I look outside and ask what’s the minimum I have to do to be better than.
Competition can be really fun when there’s a game and agreed-upon rules.
But artists get really jacked up when we start to make up a rules-y game where there isn’t one.
You hear folks say, “You gotta play the game.” What game is that, exactly?
Thing is, when you show up and do your work in a way that brings you satisfaction, find the people who can help you do your work with skill and generosity, and share that work, things start to move.
People start to say thank you. And then surprises start to happen.
People you don’t know hear about you from those people who said thank you before, and they ask you if you wanna come play. And so on.
👋🏽 Show up
💛 Talk to/invest in your people—coaches, teachers, collaborators
🤲🏽 Share your things in all the ways you can
⚽️ This gets rolling.
(But it’s not a game!)
It is, however, fun! And scary. And challenging. And terrific. And unfamiliar. And satisfying.
Truth is, some things (most things) take longer than we want (double marathon category), and some things show up more quickly than we feel we’re ready for.
Both things are a mercy.
I look back on the things I wanted when I was in my 20s, and if I’d had the skill and integration to get those things, I’m not convinced I had the character to sustain.
Delays in my life have ben gifts.
Didn’t feel like that at the time, of course, but the look-back is instructive.
So, if you’re racing and you’re tired, I invite you to look at the reality around you. Are all these crazy folks even competing in the same event?
Maybe you can stop by one of those nice people holding the paper cones of cold water and orange slices, catch your breath, and ask yourself what kind of course you even want to be on.
And no matter what course you’re jogging down today, remember that there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story on only you can sing.
ps I’m teaching NYC this weekend, and I have one session left on Sat 10/16. Just email me and snag ya spot for Saturday—we’ll make great noises, and you’ll have some terrific clarity on how to work on things and have some steps for what’s next. 🎶 Can’t wait to see you.
pps I’ll also be seeing my Elon folks (class of 2020) at 54 Below on Saturday night! If you’re in the City and wanna hear some great singing and storytelling, come check them out and say hello!