Today’s article is about what happens when you take your pain and turn it into triumph. It is my honoring of two of the world’s greatest teachers, leaders, visionaries, and activists ever: Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela.
There is so much to learn from these remarkable people and the gifts they gave from the pain they endured. They both learned how to turn pain into triumph and even turned to love their perpetrators.
As artists, musicians, songwriters, creators, entrepreneurs and coaches, we carry a noble responsibility to be the leaders and visionaries of our tribes. How can we use our pain, our struggles and life challenges to free ourselves and avoid further imprisonment? What happens when we pour our hard won experiences into our work?
In what ways can we keep the torch of heroes like Nelson Mandela or Maya Angelou alive?
How can we look at our lives and careers with more leadership and less defeat?
Life is full of painful experiences. And if they don’t destroy us, they can decimate even the strongest souls for great periods of time. Or those experiences can leave us so bitter that we can spend years reeling from the blow. And when it comes to your music, it can be shattering.
And that’s especially when it’s way too easy to take things personally, make assumptions and leave ourselves vulnerable to a kind of unconscious victimhood. When bad things happen, it’s easy to get beaten down – to even think that God (or the universe) has dealt you a bad hand on purpose. But thinking so does absolutely no good in the long or short of it. Once you accept your fate (good or bad – remember life can be tough) and get on with the business of improving yourself, you will step into the role of leadership, first in your own life, and second for your tribe. Why is this so important?
Because in order to become a great artist, great coach/teacher/mentor, a great author, entrepreneur, a great “anything” – you have to know yourself. To know yourself means to have walked in some tough shit. Yep. That’s how you earn the right to stand on that stage.
But when we embrace the struggle we find our strength.
We can’t change what happens, but we can change our response to it.
I hope this inspires you to be a better person, a stronger leader, to step up and be a better musician who inspires the world with your music and message.
RIP Maya my sister. Here is her last Tweet. God speed.