What singing (very badly) at a talent show taught me about vulnerability and growth

Showing up in vulnerability & truth is not easy. And when I work with you I spend a lot of energy creating a safe (enough) space for that to happen.

I also know that for me to do this work well, I need to show up with the same vulnerability and truth I am asking of you (if not more).

So, as I was preparing to head to Easton Mountain as a facilitator a few weeks ago, I could feel the desire to perform in the talent show.

I’ve never participated in one of the talent shows at Easton. I love singing, but I am not at all able to do it well. And given the proximity to NYC, there are usually more than a few guys who are able to entertain at a professional level - highlighting my lack of talent even more drastically.

But I could feel the desire in my body and I could feel that acute sense of impending failure. Knowing that feeling relatively well at this point, I knew I had to sing one of my favorite Korean songs.

So I found the sheet music and asked my talented friend Jonathan if he would play it for me. He said yes without even thinking and without understanding what a gift it was for me.

This is what it is supposed to sound like:

I did not sound like that.

Showing my worst

If you heard me sing this song you would think I couldn’t speak Korean at all and you would have definitely understood my lackings as a singer. I was off-key, I missed more than a few lyrics, and my normally fine pronunciation was way off.

Before going on stage I knew it would be difficult but I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined that I could make as many mistakes as I did.

One of the many, many concerts I went to for Gang-heo-dallim (강허달림) in Korea.

One of the many, many concerts I went to for Gang-heo-dallim (강허달림) in Korea.

When the song ended, I nodded to Jonathan as a thank you for playing the piano so beautifully and I rushed off stage. My whole body was burning and I wanted to cry.

But that urge to cry was not out of embarrassment, it was because it felt as if I had gone as close to my growth edge as I possibly could and that scared the shit out of me.

I approached the scariest thing I could think of, and nothing bad happened. I was held and supported by Jonathan and by everyone there listening to this awful, awful rendition of a gorgeous song.

Allowing others to fully see all of me

I’ve let go of a lot of the pressure to be “perfect” when I’m in the facilitator role. I don’t really stress about that anymore.

However, there is a wide gap between that ridiculous expectation and then getting in front of everyone and showing them your version of your worst.

I needed that. I needed my worst to be seen and witnessed.

But Easton is a safe (enough) space for a lot of people - certainly for me. I knew that if I was going to show this side of me, this would be the place to do it. I knew that I could be held and witnessed. And while I’m sure there were more than few grumbles about why in the hell I was subjecting them to this - I only received positive feedback for my “bravery.”

Finding freedom in the vulnerability of asking for what you want

One of the hundreds of times I went to sing (privately) at a singing room in Korea. Miss those so much!

One of the hundreds of times I went to sing (privately) at a singing room in Korea. Miss those so much!

In my experience, there is a lot of freedom to be found when we show up in vulnerability and allow others to see us for who we are. I think many of us spend a lot of our lives trying not to be vulnerable because we are afraid that people will leave us if they see our true selves.

What I’ve learned is that people are going to come into my life and out of my life no matter what. And I have a choice - I can spend a lot of time & energy hiding my true self or I can decide to be vulnerable & honest and trust that the right people will stay and the right people will go.

For me, the latter is a lot easier. (And I’m always looking for more ease.)

A safe (enough) container for you to do your work

I sang that song because I am always asking clients to show up in honesty and vulnerability. It is a requirement to do this work and see results. Now, whenever I get to a vulnerability cliff and recognize my own fear of heights - I know I have to walk up to that edge.

I know how important it is to do this work with people we trust, and I knew that I could walk up to my growth edge at Easton because I felt safe.

That is why I always say that the majority of my work with clients is about creating that safe (enough) container for you to show up as you truly are. A safe (enough) container for you to ask for 100% of what you want. A safe (enough) container for you to be exactly who you are.