During my recent live TV chat show Simone & Friends, I interviewed a group of women on the subject of finding their passion and living their purpose. The eldest of my guests was a wonderful woman, ninety-five years young. Articulate, engaging, funny and with a breadth of understanding and wisdom that she was delighted to share with the live audience. Her passion for music, which has been an accompaniment throughout her life. Discovering the joys of singing on stage in her fifties and going on to play supporting roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas because ‘they were always guaranteed to have a role for a middle-aged woman.” She absolutely rocked the interview and was the highlight of the evening.
This wonderful woman and I met on stage forty years ago and her passion is unabated. And not just for all things musical. For life itself. She is an incredible role model.
At a recent international conference where I presented to a global audience of over 250 speakers from 27 different countries, I too had the opportunity to articulate my passion. And it was after this event that a chance, and unconscious, comment, prompted this reflection. The comment by one of the attendees, who had complimented me on my presentation, was simply “It’s good to see that you're still so passionate.” I was surprised.
STILL…So passionate. I had to ask… “Why…. Still?” Surely passion doesn't have a use-by date?
Surely our driving force, our life energy, our deep connection to what motivates us doesn't have to diminish because we've reached a pre-determined number of years. Yet perhaps that is what society has created as the new norm with its ever present focus on youthfulness. An unconscious bias to anyone who is obviously not of that norm.
I believe it’s definitely time to shift the status quo, and to recognise the brilliance of experience. Of a life well-lived, fuelled by passion. Without qualifiers.
I wouldn't trade any of my experience of over thirty-five years as a Theatre professional… it's been hard-earned and I've created a career and business around my passion. It has, in fact, defined my purpose. And it’s what keeps me energised and alive to opportunities.
I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. I don’t plan to ‘retire’ (even the word suggests being tired of life and lacking enthusiasm). Why should I be any less dynamic, focussed or passionate about everything I embody just because I’ve had the gift of more years on planet earth?
In fact, like my wonderful friend, I want someone to interview me when I'm 95, about my passion. I expect there will be plenty to share, and I hope that I too will be an inspiration and role model.
My dear guest shared her thoughts with me after the interview… “Who would have thought that I'd get to do this at 95? What a treat.”
I added to the treat by driving her home in a classic MX5. It’s a soft-top and she wanted to drive with the top down.
Not STILL so passionate… ALWAYS so passionate.
Yours, purposefully passionate
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There is an interesting phenomenon that happens when we attend or participate in events – particularly professional development seminars and conventions.
We come away infused and enthused. Filled to the brim with new ways of thinking, or listening, or connecting. We have new music to download, new apps to try, new websites to check out, new productivity hacks to adopt, new friends to follow up.
A host of different ideas awakening a different way of thinking.
And then we come home. We get back into our daily routine, to business as usual.
And suddenly it doesn’t feel quite so easy or so much fun to make these changes. Bit by bit we stop taking action on the things we promised ourselves we would change.
We find ourselves slowly drifting back to the habits and patterns of our every day because that new piece of information, or idea, is just not creating enough of a shift for us. We put aside the new thinking, and go back to the way we always did things.
We diminish our great intentions to practice, to write, to connect, to be more of what we want to be. To shine more of our light into the world…
We go back to before. Or do we?
I believe, that in spite of ourselves, we do change.
I believe that, in spite of ourselves, we DO change. In micro-increments. In micro-choices. We make a slightly different choice because of that event, that sense of awakening to possibilities.
Like the grain of sand that creates the pearl, this tiny thought-provoking irritant becomes the one thing that doesn't allow us to go 'back to before.' It insinuates itself into our patterns, disrupting our thinking, endlessly reminding us that there is another way. It doesn't even have to be better - just, different. A difference that has the potential to bring us more joy, to connect us more deeply to our passion and our purpose and to our being fully alive to our brilliance.
Personal development is inherently circular in nature.
Personal development is inherently circular in nature. It takes a few 'rounds' before we finally begin to understand the pros and cons of particular behaviours and choices.
How often do we get that sense of 'deja vu' - "I've been here before…" - and I'm not just talking about time and place, but also about our habits and patterns of thinking.
I believe each time we travel yet another round, a tiny piece of us shifts. Shifts into greater alignment with who we are, and who we choose to be. A micro-incremental shift to a new paradigm. A greater awareness of our interconnectedness. A subtle reframing of our worldview. And therefore, we are no longer who we were 'before'.
The general consensus at most professional development events is to choose one thing - and then to implement the learning.
What if the implementation is, in fact, nothing that you need to DO, but rather who you need to BE in order for your world to shift?
What would that look like?
What would that feel like?
What could you achieve if you were truly BEing the brilliance of you?
I'd love to know what you think?
Over the past few days I’ve attended my speaker association’s national convention here in Australia.
There’s a wide variety of speakers who attend, from emerging to certified speaking professionals, to our global leaders, all with a very diverse range of topics, styles and platforms.
But what bring us all together, what creates those magical moments, those change-making conversations, is the sense of community and the power of story to connect.
The conference theme for this year was defining moments, and as a speaker and Theatrepreneur I have certainly had my share of defining moments – moments in time that transformed either my speaking or my business.
At this convention, I finally got the chance to share two of those transformative moments with the people who helped create them. Neither of them knew that the words that they had spoken at the time, the gift of presence and support they had shared, had created those powerful moments of definition for me. So for them to hear of my experiences, and to be on the receiving end of my gratitude, was unexpected and heart-affirming. The fact is, both instances happened over five years ago, and it has taken me a while to be in a situation where I could offer my thanks.
I wonder if you have ever considered those defining moments in your own life – those moments in time when someone has gifted you the perfect words to turn your life around. Perhaps you, yourself, have been the giver of those words, those actions, the support that has created an aha moment, a defining moment, for someone else.
We don’t often know when we have activated someone else’s epiphany – their aha. But wouldn’t it be a wonderful experience if we were to discover how we have made a difference in someone else’s life?
So why not take a moment to reflect on your personal defining moments. Who was the hero in that story for you?
If you haven’t already done so, maybe it’s time to reach out to them, to thank them.
Because your recognition of your defining moment could also be theirs.
In 1971, Don Fardon released a single called Follow Your Drum… a song that reflected on the importance of following the rhythm of your own drum.
It’s never been more important to do just that – to acknowledge that the rhythm of your life is dictated by the beat of your heart’s desires.
I don’t know about you, but I instantly rebel when someone tells me I ‘should’ do something. Now my rebelling is not loud or obvious, it’s not a tantrum, or a diva turn. My rebelling is in quietly, gently yet firmly turning my face in the direction I wish to go, and taking the next step towards it.
How often do we allow ourselves to be nudged, shifted, or manoeuvred, sometimes even removed off our path because someone else has a point of view about how we should be doing our creative work?
At the moment I’m running monthly public events all to do with finding your voice, and sharing your message in a public forum. And there are many different points of view about how I should be doing this. I’ve had attendees (after the event) give me the benefit of their wisdom and tell me I should be running my events this way; other people telling me me that I shouldn’t give so much feedback – that people can’t cope – and that I should use this structure, or that process.
It can be exhausting – if you give it attention. And we often do give it far too much attention. So much so, that often we will find we’re heading down someone else’s path because we don’t trust ourselves and our drum-beat.
I have found the surest way to follow my own drum is to say to people who wish me to be more like them, and less myself, thank you for sharing, and then I go and do what I’m going to do.
I encourage you to follow the rhythm of your own drum. Do not be dissuaded by those who, most times, mean well, but have no idea what drives you, or what brings you joy. All they can see is that it’s not how ‘they’ would do it, and therefore you must be wrong.
They cannot hear your heart beat, they cannot feel your rhythm, they cannot follow your drum.
Be bold… It’s up to you to turn up the sound of your heart’s beat, step out to your rhythm and follow your drum.
In the past few days here in Australia there has been a huge backlash against a Minister for Education who has decreed that ‘the arts’ are not a ‘legitimate’ career and therefore should not be eligible for student loans. I expect that Hugh Jackman, Geoffrey Rush and Cate Blanchett, to name just a few, would soundly disagree.
To say that the creative community is dumb-founded, aghast and retaliating with vigour would be an understatement. There has been a huge upswell of support from around the globe in support of continued funding for students who decide on a ‘road less travelled’ as a career.
Productions such as Pirates [of the Caribbean] employed almost 1,000 locals and over 5,000 companies in Queensland.
That sounds pretty legitimate to me.
However, this attitude that the ‘arts’ is second-rate, insignificant and ‘not a legitimate’ career is rife in Australia and the students of film & television and theatre that I coach and train are moving into an industry that they feel they have to apologise for.
Apologise for following their hearts. Apologise for their career choices. Apologise for using their gifts and talents.
We are not all cut from the same cloth. We are not less than for daring to be different and follow our calling.
Where would we be without the gift of the creative arts in our lives: the gift that our creative entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, sculptors, painters, architects, designers, photographers and actors bring to every day.
Please do not allow your voice to be stopped, to be diminished, to be anything less than the gift that it is.
Continue to share every bit of your talent with the world.
Our creative voices matter
Art, in all its forms, matters.
And you cannot silence us.