For every hundred people reading this column today, I’d bet that 99 have an emotional response, if asked, “How do you feel about singing, and in particular about someone hearing your singing?” Don’t quit on me, now. This IS about leadership.
You see, singing and leadership share the reality and the metaphor of “voice.” And our voice is so personal, vulnerable, precious, sometimes unheard, judged or silenced.
Both song and leadership feast on both lyrics and music; both on explicit meaning as well as the heart, soul, breath, and emotion that can course through a singer’s lyric, or a leader’s vision.
And, here’s the big part: leadership and singing are profoundly and mysteriously interactive.
I sang in a recital yesterday. Scarlett, my gifted teacher has been “receiving” my songs in practice for weeks. On Friday at my lesson, she read back to me the lyric of the wonderful Natalie Merchant (10,000 Maniacs) song I had chosen, These Are Days. I have loved it and had practiced it often, but for some reason – in her recitation – I really “got” the song. Having given it back to me, she encouraged me to give it fully away on Sunday. And when I did, the song seemed luxuriously long. It felt like 10 minutes, though it’s a two and half minute piece. I think I saw every . . . face . . . in . . . the . . . audience of 70 or so. And many were not just receiving my offering but were palpably returning something. Much like Scarlett gave my song back to me, only this time without even words. Their attention carried my song back.
Ronnie Heifetz says that “attention is the currency of leadership.” Maybe it’s the currency of performance. Maybe, the currency of life and love. Maybe by currency he means electricity, power, more than he means money?
I invite you to sing anew the old song of Thanks Giving. Connect it anew to what they call your heart “strings.” Pluck those chords and see if others’ don’t resonate. And be the audience to others’ songs of thanks, that their sound might come from a deeper part of them and touch a deeper part of you.
If it’s a noisy Thanksgiving house, well, just see. As did my lovely audience whose attentive eyes brought forth a good song from me.
Thank you so much for the attention you offer in letting me sing my leadership song each Monday morning.
Sing with your best self,
P.S. Here’s a link to George Winston’s “Thanksgiving,” a lovely song that will take you to a perfect autumn evening.