“I can almost see it, that dream I’m dreaming…” – Miley Cyrus, “The Climb”
Growth starts within. To gain a clearer understanding of yourself, stop for a moment of silence and listen for your inner melody. In music, the symbol in a musical score prompting a pause or stop is called a fermata. In our everyday life, such an act often involves getting real and taking stock. Everyone is unique, and until you are clear about your gifts, understand your potential pitfalls, and connect with who you are as a leader, you cannot fully serve others. My journey to self-awareness begins and ends in discovery.
I used to take every assessment possible, whether I was paying for it or searching for what was free on the web. I was looking for what boxes I checked and if the results laid out a plan for me to be a better leader. Eventually, I had an executive coach explain that assessments don’t provide a blueprint – they give you language to support your leadership skills rather than simply giving you a label. Nobody wants to be labeled; labels are limiting and can actually be incredibly deceiving. They can help you, but they don’t show you the whole picture. Those labels were actually silencing an important part of myself – the part that wanted creativity and passion to be a driving force AND a place of rest.
Here’s how I learned to hear the music again –
I found my inspiration again after realizing I had lost the sound and peace of music while working on my career. I remembered that I used to make mixtapes for different moods, playing songs in my head to recall information. With my dyslexia (a learning disorder and reading disability that affects the area of the brain that processes language; although today, after a lot of research and acceptance, it is simply known as neurodiversity), music helped me expand my vocabulary and articulate my thoughts. As my brain was processing language differently, music empowered, motivated, and inspired my self-confidence. Music allowed me to become creative and feel something in the moment.
Now, when I’m unclear in my direction, I turn on some music to help provide the insight I’m missing. Because there is no judgment in music, I am able to gain a lot of clarity on my leadership style through it. We don’t have to answer to music. It is personal and allows us to hear and see what we need to gain clarity for ourselves. Think about it: When you’re listening to the radio in the shower, on a walk, or in your car, your mind is free to explore your own thoughts because no one is judging them. Music is the thing that gives me that pause, that stopping place, to reconnect with myself as a person and as a leader.