No Failure – Only Feedback

Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a series of calls for the Artists Marketing & Business Academy based on Christopher Howard’s Assumptions for Empowered Leadership. For this edition of the Words to the Wise Newsletter, I’m focusing on Assumption #9:

“Only feedback – no failure; therefore utilize everything”

I’ll go much deeper into how to apply it to your life in this month’s Toolbox Teleclass: “How to Use Feedback and Criticism Constructively” for the Artists Marketing & Business Academy.

No Failure – Only Feedback

Failure* –

  1. The condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short
  2. The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends

What is interesting to me about the above definitions is that they are stated as a fait accompli.  Done.  Finished.  But when I hear people describe themselves as failures I have to ask – are you done?  Are you finished?  Because if you’re not – you’re not yet a failure!  You’ve merely tried something in pursuit of your goal that didn’t work, or didn’t work as well as you’d hoped.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

So, instead of using this experience to define yourself (I am a failure) – what if this result is merely feedback?

Feedback* –

  1. A reaction or response to a particular process or activity.
  2. Evaluative information derived from such a reaction or response.

I love using these definitions for failure!  What if this negative outcome (previously defined as a failure) could be viewed as a reaction or response to a particular process or activity and you could derive evaluative information from this outcome?

Failure vs. Feedback

In my experience, when you define yourself as a failure – you stop.  When you define your experience as feedback, then this negative outcome becomes merely one step on your path to success.

So, for example, you went to an audition and didn’t get it; or you asked for a booking from a venue and were turned down; or you submitted a song to TAXI and got returned; or you tried out for American Idol and got slammed by Simon; or any other circumstance that ends in a “NO” response.  And you notice that you’re looking at these circumstances and saying to yourself – I’m a failure.

What if you looked at that experience and said instead – “This is interesting feedback.  Wonder how I can utilize this?  What can I learn?  How can I improve?  What do I try next?  Am I done testing this method – or should I test it some more?”

  • How would you feel from that perspective?
  • What steps would you take from that place?
  • How is that different from what you’re doing presently?

I look forward to hearing how this shifts things for you?

* Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

7 Lessons from American Idol – Top 16 Results

In the writing of this blog series – I will not be commenting on who stays and who is voted off, no matter how tempted I may be.  My purpose in writing this blog is to help you in your serious pursuit of success doing what you love.  While American Idol may feed into the confusion of success and fame (which don’t necessarily coincide), I believe that there is a lot here to be learned about what works and doesn’t work in the music industry.  And many of these principles can be extrapolated to apply to any industry both in the arts and outside of it.

Here are 7 lessons I pulled from Thursday night’s results show.  Many of these came in the form of advice about what contestants need to do or comments from the judges.  And one came from a contestant who’d been eliminated:

  1. Consistency
  2. Have fun
  3. Be unique
  4. Sing from your true experience
  5. Confidence
  6. Believe in yourself (not exactly the same as confidence, although they generally coincide)
  7. Use “losing” as an inspiration or a push to do more

What were your biggest lessons from this week in American Idol?

2 Lessons From American Idol – Top 8 Male Semifinalists

In Wednesday night’s American Idol there were two lessons that can help you be successful as a performing musician or artist.  When giving Alex Lambert feedback, Kara DioGuardi said, “The only thing standing in the way of you winning is you.”  She was specifically targeting Alex’s clear lack of confidence.  And while, his performance was getting better each time, it was not going to be enough for him to make it to the finals.

So, let’s talk about this confidence thing.  This is a common theme on American Idol, because most of the contestants have little or no performing experience and certainly no performing experience in front of an audience of this magnitude.  Most professional artists get to this level after long years of experience and their proficiency in performance is a skill that they build and develop over time.  How are you building your performance chops?

Simon Cowell told Alex to just believe in himself.  As if it’s that easy to choose to believe in yourself.  You know what – it is.  Because what you believe is your choice.  This is something I teach in my Transform Your Beliefs – The Key to Success class, that’s available for download from the Artist’s EDGE Membership.  You can change what you believe.  However, when working alone (and not with a coach), it can be very challenging to change what you believe.  But the easiest way to change what you believe is to change what you’re focusing on.  If all you’re focusing on is the thought, “Don’t let me fail.”  Or, “I’m not good enough for this.”  Then that’s what you’ll believe.

Want to believe in yourself?  Change what you’re focusing on: “I have a good voice.”  “My fans are voting for me and rooting for me.”  And then find evidence of that belief and focus on that.

And really, that’s all Simon was suggesting when he offered the stunning image of Randy in a bikini – having that image in your mind will make it harder to worry about anything, much less your performance.  It’s an old speaker’s trick, imagining your audience in their underwear.  And it works!  Though I’ve always preferred to imagine my audience having transformational experiences, personally.

Lesson One: Choose to believe in yourself and focus on the right stuff!

The second lesson I saw was in the nature of skill development of a different sort – vocal skill.  Now it is true, both on American Idol and in the vast world of the Music Business, that a great performer can, to some degree, overcome a lack of vocal ability – I mean look at Bruce Springsteen.  And in today’s Music Industry, the use of Auto-Tune in live and recorded performances has become almost an industry standard, particularly in the commercial or pop music world.  However, as Taylor Swift discovered, it doesn’t necessarily solve all the problems of a professional lacking in trained vocal skills.

On the other side of that fence, as we saw with Katie Stevens in the previous night’s performance, an incredible vocal skill absolutely does not make up for the lack of performance skills.  But one thing that vocal training can make up for – nerves.  One of the first things to go when dealing with nerves is breath.  And without breath, being able to maintain pitch, particularly over a sustained note, becomes nearly impossible.

But if you’ve trained your body, your diaphragm, your vocal chords, to breath and maintain your pitch, then when you are challenged by nerves or emotions, your muscle memory will enable you to maintain your pitch through your emotions.

So many artists today don’t want to get vocal training.  Because they have some idea about wanting to maintain a raw sound or they’re afraid that they’ll have to change their vocal style.  But that can’t be further from the truth.  What vocal training allows you to do is to be masterful in your sound.  To have tremendous control over the tone and emotional content of your vocals.  And even more importantly, training will help you to maintain your vocal health and keep you from losing your voice as well as keep you from developing vocal nodes and other chronic conditions that will stop you from singing at all.

Lesson Two: Develop Your Craft!

How are you training yourself as an artist?  Whatever your craft is, you are never done developing it.  Always be working on your craft.  Many young musicians think that if they train too much, they’ll somehow lose their raw freshness.  Guess what – the best way to lose is to not train!  The better you are, the more power and choice you have.  You can always choose to be raw – but it will be very hard to maintain if poor skills destroy your vocal chords.  Masters are developed, not born.  And you’ll be able to go much further on training and skill than on talent.

How are you developing your skills?

3 Lessons from American Idol – Top 8 Female Semifinalists

In last night’s episode of American Idol, I saw a few themes that you can apply to your musical performance.  At one point in the evening, Kara DioGuardi talked about how there were two kinds of contestants:

  1. Contestants who really know themselves as artists
  2. Contestants who DON’T yet know who they are as artists

I would say there’s also a third kind of contestant – ones who have an idealized picture of the kind of artist they want to be, but that isn’t really the best expression of their true talent.  Lil Rounds was that kind of contestant.  She has an awesome blues/jazz vocal, but wanted to be a Diva a la Whitney.  Her vocal instrument just wasn’t suited to that kind of music. Her performance suffered from that and I believe that’s why she was eliminated so early.

Kara is dead on – some of the contestants have a really solid handle on who they are as musicians and performers, as artists.  And some of them are struggling to find that identity.  But what Katie Stevens really showed was that she has an idea of who she wants to be, but she hasn’t yet discovered:

  1. Whether her idea/ideal of herself as an artist is suited to her unique voice
  2. How to bring that concept of herself to fruition through her performance

In past Idol seasons, the contest has clearly favored artists who had a solid and internalized concept of who they are as an artist; that concept was well suited to their unique voice; and they had learned the skills necessary to communicate who they are to the audience.

Lesson One: Identify your unique essence as an artist And learn the skills necessary to communicate who you are to your audience.

Which leads me to the second lesson from last night’s episode.  Learning how to communicate to your audience through your art.  Whether your art is music (either composition or performance), theatre/film, visual, fine art or writing

Lesson Two: All art is communication

In the performing arts, the key to communicating effectively comes down to Intention and Choices.  When you don’t learn how to do this effectively your audience WILL NOT CONNECT WITH YOU.  They won’t know why.  You heard it multiple times last night from Randy Jackson and Ellen DeGeneres.  They didn’t really know why it didn’t work.  But they knew it didn’t work.  They didn’t connect or perhaps they didn’t feel like the singer was authentic or genuine or really feeling it.  But really, the problem was with the contestants’ intentions and choices.

What I saw were artists whose intention was about pleasing the judges and surviving the cut. The result of holding that intention, made them seem stiff, disconnected, or as Simon put it, “like you sucked the energy right out of the song.”  The intention behind the song needs to be about the impact you want to create in your audience – and it can’t be about them liking you. In order to create an impact, your intention needs to focus on your audience, not on you.  You need to make specific choices about who you’re singing to – and what you want them to do, feel or know.

What is the experience you want your audience to have? How do you want to affect them?

Lesson Three: Make choices that allow the power to build throughout the song and that communicate the clear message of the song.

The artists whose intention was focused on telling the story of the song – Lacey, Siobhan, Didi and Crystal – all did extremely well.  The difference was in their intention and the choices they made in the communication of the song.  The resulting performances were of tremendously high quality.

For example, when Didi sang Rhiannon – she was genuinely asking the question – “Would you stay if she promised you heaven?” and “Will you ever win?”  She really wanted to know.  They weren’t just words and notes – there was a choice and an intention behind her words and the result was that the music created a true response within us as an audience.  It was the intention and the choices behind her words that generated the response.  Katie, on the other hand, was focused more on the technical use of her voice and on getting the approval of the judges.  How do I know?  We didn’t connect with her and felt like she wasn’t connected to the song.

And its not enough to have intentions and choices, they need to be the right intentions and choices.  Paige made strong choices that didn’t work.  She chose to focus on the “though your heart is breaking” aspect of the lyrics, completely missing the uplifting and inspiring aspect of the song – which was to SMILE – as Ellen pointed out.  And the result was that Paige was overcome by emotions and we were left unable to connect with the song or with Paige.

So the 3 lessons here are –

  1. Make clear choices and intentions
  2. Make those choices and intentions about the effect you want to create in your audience or the message you want to communicate to your audience (and wanting them to pickup the phone to vote for you is about you, not them)
  3. Make choices that allow the power to build throughout the song and that communicate the clear message of the song.

One last note on Simon Cowell‘s use of the word indulgent.  I really think that what Simon is commenting on is the result of the singer’s intention and attention being focused on themselves and what they want, instead of creating an intention about the impact they want the song to generate in the audience.  A better word might be self-involved.  But whenever I’ve seen him make that note to a contestant, it’s usually because the singer has communicated a message of “me, me, look at me!”  Instead of communicating the message and the impact of the song.

How do you create intentions and choices from moment to moment in your performances?  Is this something you work on and develop?  If so, what are your methods?

3 Lessons from American Idol – Top 24

OK – yes, I’m a few weeks behind in my American Idol viewing.  Let’s face it – the artificially inflated suspense (3 hours for the Top 24 results? Gimme a break!) just didn’t compete with the actual suspense available in the Olympics.

For Season 9, I will be commenting on AI every week, so I’ll catch up shortly.  I’m sure many blogs will be talking about this – but my perspective isn’t about who should win or lose.  It’s not about are the judges drunk or whether this contestant is gay or that contestant is cute – seriously…

I will be listing the lessons a music business professional can learn about how to create success promoting your career and your music.

In the episodes where they announced the top 24, there was one contestant in particular that I found very interesting.  Jessica Furney, when handed the very sad news that for the second season having made it to Hollywood Week, she would not be chosen to participate, did something very interesting.

First she begged – not only unattractive, but really not effective.  What, did she think they’d change their minds?  After 8 seasons, we’ve seen the judges overrule the audience’s vote and we’ve seen the judges change the rules to allow an extra person in.  But we’ve NEVER seen them change their minds.

Begging just made Jessica feel bad about herself and did not move her closer to her goal.  And when she realized that it wasn’t working, she changed tactics.  Well, that’s just BRILLIANT!

Lesson One: When you notice your strategy isn’t working, try something different.

I love that flexibility.  And then, she made a very interesting choice in tactic.  She asked for feedback.

Lesson Two: There is no failure – Only feedback!

Now asking for feedback can be a tricky thing.  (I’ll be writing a Words to the Wise Newsletter article about how to avoid the pitfalls when asking for feedback, so be sure to subscribe to the Newsletter, if you haven’t already.)   And sure enough, Jessica fell into one of the key pitfalls.

She asked a bad question.

Lesson Three: Ask Good Questions!

Jessica asked a question that was sure to illicit information that would NOT be useful.  She asked (I’m paraphrasing here) – “What did the top 24 do that I didn’t do?”  And Simon Cowell answered very clearly, “They sang better.”  Well, duh, no kidding.  But that’s not really useful feedback is it?

So what could she have asked, that might have yielded more useful feedback?  Here are some suggestions off the top of my head:

  1. How can I improve my singing?
  2. What should I work on to improve for next year? (this is a bit broader – not just about the voice, but the whole package)
  3. What song choices would you recommend for me?
  4. What did I do right, so I can do more of that?
  5. If there were one thing that you would have changed if you were my coach, what would it be?

Notice that these questions are very specific, and yet open ended (not “yes” or “no” questions) and they were questions focused more on the future than on the past.  They also didn’t ask “why”.  See, Jessica asked a “Why” question in disguise – why didn’t you pick me?  Why questions are generally not useful from a feedback perspective.  Because they elicit reasons why or why not.  The reasons aren’t that helpful, as we saw here.  What will be helpful are the answers to “how” and “what” questions.

What question would you have asked if you were in Jessica Furney’s shoes?

So to review, the 3 lessons for me were:

  1. When you notice your strategy isn’t working, try something different.
  2. There is no failure – Only feedback!
  3. Ask useful questions.

What did you learn from this episode of American Idol?  And how can you apply that to your music career?

And a word for Jessica, if you happen to be reading.  You made it further this year than last year.  Keep building on your success.

Social Media Do’s and Don’ts

Just read a great blog post with an overview of Do’s and Don’ts in the Social Media world.

The How To’s of Social Media

(Resource no longer available)

By Talia DeVault
Having just returned from a Bay Area Women in Film event on “Utilizing Social Media,” I felt compelled to share the knowledge of the creative professionals that spoke on the panel…

There’s a lot of great suggestions here and it gives a good overview of SoMe etiquette. I recommend reading it (resource no longer available).

I added a comment there and wanted to expand a bit here:

Excellent review! Thank you. I’d like to add a few do’s and don’ts:

DO automate your promotional and repetitive tweets (remember, the stream is moving so fast, that any message should be tweeted 2-3 times a day), AND be sure to personalize your connection with your friends/followers – respond, engage, be a resource. That CAN’T be automated and must be real and must be your voice.

DON’T be the same across the medium – DON’T automatically push your tweets to facebook to linkedin, etc. Different mediums require a different kind of interaction. I think of it this way:

Linkedin is the business networking event
Twitter is the cocktail party
Facebook is dinner with friends.

You wouldn’t wear the same out fit or have the same demeanor at the networking event as you would either at the cocktail party or dinner with friends.  What works and doesn’t work in real life works and doesn’t work on social media.

In addition, think of blogging and your email newsletter as an opportunity to build value and familiarity with your fans and clients – and both need to be different from each other as well. I don’t know about you, but I hate getting the exact same message from 5 different places – I’m likely to unfollow and unsubscribe so I only get the information once.  Blogging is like an ongoing conversation.  It doesn’t need to be long or drawn out, because you’ll be back again soon.

Your newsletter needs to be a bit more formal, very value driven as well as bringing your list deeper into relationship with you.

And the concept that underpins all of it, is that people buy from those they know, like and trust.  Your goal in Social Media should be to establish yourself as an expert, and allow your fans, followers, friends and customers/clients to get to know you, like you and trust you.

Taylor Swift – Is Her Career Over?

I wrote this to Bob Lefsetz in response to his rallying cry for Taylor Swift and against the almost universal online and mainstream media bashing.

Bob specifically gave Taylor the following advice:

Everything’s got to come out.  Honesty is the best policy in a crisis.  We’re a forgiving country.  Tell the backstory, the true story, of how Scott spent so much to make Taylor happen.  Not as a tale of millions spent, but as a father doing everything to make his daughter’s dream come true.  Release video of Taylor singing at twelve.  Show the arc of her development.  Make the Grammy appearance part of her development.  Instead of the end of the story…

This is serious business.  Just look at John Edwards.  The aforementioned Tiger Woods.  There are people who specialize in handling these crises.  Hire one.  Because the team in control of Taylor Swift’s image is woefully overmatched.  I wouldn’t call it a public relations offensive but an explanation, a bringing of the public into Taylor Swift’s heart.  Don’t throw stones at your enemies, hug them tight, by admitting your faults and showing that you’re reasonable, and dedicated to solving the problem.

Thought you might be interested in my response to Bob’s email:

Dear Bob,

I so agree with you.  And all she’s got to do is say – “Whoa, I’m 19 (or whatever age she is, I don’t track these things).  I’m working with a vocal coach.  I’m working with a guitar teacher.  I’m always working on and improving my songwriting skills.  When you’re an artist you must always be working on and improving your skills.  I know I’ve got room for improvement.  Who doesn’t?”

Being able to sing on key, support your breath, harmonize – these are skills.  Some people are born with a large amount of talent.  The rest of us need to build our skills.  And the truth is, it is more likely the people who have to work very hard to achieve high proficiency are more likely to be successful in the long run, than the folks for whom it comes easy.  Because those of us who have to work hard all along – become used to hard work.  So, when the going gets hard, we just buckle down and get to work.

It’s also extremely rare for someone to be hugely talented across the board.  You’ve said yourself, she’s a talented songwriter.  I agree.  I also think she’s a talented performer and producer.  But she needs to build her skills in other areas.  Hey, she’s young – give the girl a chance, will ya?

Your Music Business Coach,

Ask the Organizer

Some of the biggest energy and time wasters in our lives results from an ineffective system of organization. This can show up in many ways.

It can look like a lack of time management – but really you’re spending too much time looking for things you’ve lost. It can look like getting distracted because of things you’ve forgotten or feeling confused and overwhelmed because you’re surrounded by clutter in your space.

It can look like avoiding or procrastinating – but really, you haven’t organized your goals and To Do list in a way that helps you to prioritize what needs to get done – so you can’t get started.

So, for this month’s Words to the Wise edition, I’m going to hand the reins off to an Organization expert – Joshua Zerkel – for some tips on how to organize your time to avoid communications distractions. (While writing this introduction, my phone rang 3 times!)

Warm regards,
Debra Russell
Certified Business Coach

Boost Focus and Productivity by Reducing Communication Distractions

By Joshua Zerkel
During the course of a given day, think about how many different ways you might be distracted from the tasks you have in front of you – a notification pops up in the corner of your screen letting you know you have a new email, your phone vibrates to let you know you received a new message on Twitter, the phone rings… and the list goes on and on. Let’s face facts – we live in distraction oriented culture, where we’re encouraged to be in near-constant contact with the outside world.

While staying in touch is great in theory, being constantly available to the outside world can be an ongoing source of distractions and interruptions. In my work with clients, many of them say that dealing with these distractions has become a major part of daily life, and is taking a toll on their productivity. Here are some strategies for stemming the tide of interruptions and getting back on track towards being more efficient:

Prioritize your key tasks

Before you start your work each day, take a few moments to write down what your priority tasks are going to be that day. Set aside time on your calendar to work on those tasks, and make those times “communication free zones” – meaning that you won’t check email, answer calls, or instant-message during those times, unless doing so relates specifically to the project you’re working on. Setting aside this space to work on your projects will help you stay focused and get closer to your goal of finishing a given task.

Beware of “helpful” notifications

Pretty much every system we use to communicate, whether it’s instant message, email, social media, voice mail, text messaging, etc., has a way to notify us when we’ve received a new message or communication request. Ask yourself, are these notifications serving you, or are they an interruption? For most of us, the latter is the case. Instead of allowing these tech tools distract you, set specific times during the day when you will check for new messages, email, etc., and turn off the notifications. You could check your various inboxes twice a day, every few hours, or every hour, depending on the volume of communication you receive. Very, very few messages are so urgent that they can’t wait an hour or two for you to return the communication.

Don’t get sucked into the social media vortex

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace… these are all great tools, and can be a lot of fun. They can also generate a voluminous amount of messages that require your attention and time. If you’re using these tools for purely personal use, limit your use of them to outside business hours, and set some parameters about how much time you’d like to spend on them. If social media is a part of your business, make sure to set aside time on your calendar during your work day to process your new messages and friend requests. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that managing these sites is something that can be done in the ever-elusive “spare time” – keeping current with your profiles has to become part of your scheduled tasks.

These are some of my favorite ways to reduce communication-related distractions – what are some of yours?

Joshua Zerkel, CPO® is a the founder of Custom Living Solutions, a San Francisco-based productivity and organizing consulting firm, specializing in helping busy people save time, space and money by getting organized at home and at work. For more FREE organizing ideas, visit or call 415-830-6345.

Social Media Marketing – Part 1

This past week has been all about Social Media Marketing for me.  On Tuesday, I interviewed the fabulous Ariel Hyatt from Cyberpr for the Artist’s EDGE Membership “Interview With an Expert” Series.  She answered very clearly the question:

Social Media Marketing – Why?

And then on Thursday, I attended an in depth seminar with Ann Evanston from called Twitter Technology Training (or T3 for short!).  In this event Ann answered very clearly the question:

Twitter Marketing – How?

How serendipitous to do these to trainings back to back.  Because now, I’m completely fired up about doing the social media thing the right way – and I no longer feel completely overwhelmed by it.  And so, of course, I want to help you feel the same way.

Around the turn of our new century it became clear to most small business owners that they were going to have to have a web presence if they wanted to create success doing what they loved.  I believe that we are experiencing a similar tipping point around social media marketing.  You’re just going to have to have a presence in the social media world in order to create a successful business doing what you love.  Not doing it means leaving a lot of money on the table and giving your competition, who is using social media, a huge edge.

So the question then becomes – how do you build this into your marketing strategy in a way that makes sense for your business and for your sanity?

The short answer is to choose the top three social media sites to focus on and then create a system using the tools and techniques to make the most powerful impact with your presence and best use of your time.

Ariel gave us her top 5 and I have to agree.  They are:

If you are in the music industry, you absolutely must have a presence on MySpace.  If you’re not in the music industry, I recommend against it.  I think everybody should be on Twitter and Linkedin.  Twitter will help you build a relationship with your clients/customers as well as your colleagues.  Twitter is also amazing at increasing your presence across the search engines.

Linkedin will help you build relationships with your colleagues and can be a great source of joint venture opportunities, and an opportunity to build credibility and buzz about who you are and what you do.

I believe the jury’s still out on Facebook and the best way to do business on what is for most people, primarily a social medium.  I see a lot of people making some major mistakes on Facebook – such as inviting people to a local event 3000 miles away from where they live.  Event invites are becoming the scourge of Facebook – and I think you can do a lot more harm than good there.  But I believe, if used correctly, Facebook can be a great way to deepen your relationship with your fans, clients and customers – Step 7 in the Multiple Streams of Business Income concept.

The power of YouTube has been well established – just take the brilliant “Will It Blend?” campaign created by Blendtec®. The best piece of advice I’ve heard about YouTube is to worry less about the quality of the video and more about the quality of the message.

If it’s too slick, it won’t stick on YouTube!

In addition, there may be other social media sites unique to your target market.  There are tons of sites and new ones being added by the day.  I recommend picking your top 3 and get things up and running there, before adding more or you will just get overwhelmed.  In order for Social Media Marketing to work for you, you must create a winning strategy and work it consistently over time.  Remember the old marketing adage 7-15 touches before you exist in a new customer’s mind.  You can’t do that if you start something and don’t maintain it with consistency.  And with 17,148 new messages/minute on Twitter (according to (resource no longer available) – a number that changes depending on the day and time of day – but you get the point), consistency is going to be key to your marketing effectiveness.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about the culture and mindset of the social media world as well as some really cool tools that I’ve discovered.


I believe that Leadership, or the lack thereof, underlies many if not all of the challenges that we are experiencing in today’s world.  But what is Leadership?

Leadership – A 21st Century Concept

According to the dictionary, Leadership is the position or function of a leader.  (I hate when dictionaries define a word with the word itself, don’t you?)  The definition of a leader: a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group.

And I think that is exactly the mistake we are making in our world.  Who am I to call myself a leader – I’m not a directing head of anything but my own life!

We are waiting for someone else to lead, someone else to take responsibility for our lives, someone else to judge what’s right or wrong, someone else to fix what’s wrong in the world.  While on the one hand, I think that having a centralized government is generally a good thing.  Our world is really too complex to work without that, I certainly don’t want to be dealing with paving that big pothole or providing electricity to the city!

On the other hand, I believe that giving over the responsibility for my own judgment, my own authority to someone who lives far away and over whom I have no influence is a mistake.

It fosters corruption.  And it gives me a convenient scapegoat for all that doesn’t work in my life.  It sets up an environment of shame and blame and empowers a victim mentality.  It creates a society that is OK with corporations that steal from the individual as long as the stockholders are making money; with a health care system that takes your money but doesn’t take care of your health; with waste and a pollution which may yet make our planet uninhabitable; with a government that undermines our human rights in the name of security.

All because we’ve given away our leadership.

On an individual level, we don’t learn to trust ourselves.  We are taught to trust the authorities in our lives over our own internal guidance from early infancy, whether it’s our parents, our teachers, our religious leaders or our peers.  This can create tremendous stress, self-esteem issues, and challenges with addiction and depression, because we feel helpless, a piece of flotsam in a vast sea of conflicting and violent currents.  And because we’ve forgotten how truly powerful each and every one of us is.

And it fosters an inability or unwillingness to take responsibility for our own actions, our own outcomes, even our own feelings.  But the truth is, taking ownership of our action and our outcomes, being responsible for our feelings – these are skills we can learn. And so I’ve created my mantra, in order to create myself as an authentic leader in each moment, in each day:

I have the opportunity TODAY
To live my life how I intend my life to be
In balance and with consistency

I’ve become passionate about the challenge of personal leadership.  How do I create authentic leadership from within myself and how can I empower you, my clients, and my readers to do the same?  I believe that we co-create our world in each moment of every day.  Join with me on this journey of exploration, personal growth, creation and expansion.  So that we can co-create a world that truly works, that empowers life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that gives equal opportunity to each and every one of us.