A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching Christine Kloser’s online summit for transformational authors. She interviewed terrific guests on every aspect of writing and promoting a book—from getting past your fears and procrastination, to clarifying your message, building a following, and launching your book (and there were lots of great lessons in this for musicians). My favorite was a talk about Unmasking Your True Creative Potential given by Sandra Joseph.
Who is she? Sandra earned the record as the longest-running leading lady in the longest-running Broadway show of all time. She played Christine in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway for a decade (!) and is now an author and inspirational speaker.
In the interview Sandra spoke about getting past our fears and fulfilling our potential—reaching the fullest expression of who we are here to be. And she described how she auditioned 3 times for the lead in Phantom, the role of a lifetime. After the first audition, she won a part in the chorus, but in auditioning for the lead, each time she was hampered by her fears, by trying to prove herself, and by trying to be something other than herself.
Sandra’s audition odyssey
In her book, Sandra describes, “At the first audition, I had been stiff and unnatural. At the second audition I had been artificial and contrived. Both approaches were clearly manifestations of my own insecurity and desperation to prove my worth.”
She thought she’d never have another shot to audition for the role — to be heard by the legendary Hal Prince. But unexpectedly, months after after she’d given up hope, she had a 3rd and final chance. For this she knew she needed to work on changing her inner dialogue.
Sandra remembered back to her first acting teacher who told her that “The most important thing about a performance is that it is truthful and alive.” She knew she needed to show up differently for that 3rd audition, being fully present and authentic.
Instead of self-talk that was focused on “I have to get the part!” Sandra had to get to a place of letting go of the outcome. She had to let go of her audition being about self-worth.
Where’s your ego?
Leading up to the 3rd audition Sandra began telling herself “I’m not here to get the part. I don’t have to be perfect. I’m not here to prove anything.”
Note: this approach is a renunciation of the ego—letting go of proving yourself. And it’s a call to stop “hiding” whatever we fear others will see in us. In Jungian terms, this part we’re afraid other people will see is our shadow. And our real strength comes from showing up complete—shadow and all. We’re not whole and authentic unless we’re fully present with our shadow.
What else did Sandra tell herself for her audition? She set this intention: “May I be present. May I be authentic. And may I bring my whole heart to this moment.”
This may sound simple. It’s not.
It’s painful to confront our true selves. And scary to walk into a performance or any other stressful situation and bring our whole heart, shadow and all, and not hide behind perfectionism, proving ourselves, or seeking approval.
For Sandra, the result was not a technically perfect audition—but one that was far more real than she’d given before.
And yes, she finally won the role.
Finding your purpose
In the summit Sandra spoke about the creative work that we are called to—for her, it’s about connecting to our divine purpose. And the writing of her book put her even more in touch with what the process.
Her view is this: “Just the act of creation itself puts us in the flow of the divine. We are creative beings. When we create we link up with Creation itself and we become a part of it. And that is one of the most glorious experiences of being alive. It is one of the reasons we are here. It is part of our purpose.”
Check out Sandra’s book, Unmasking What Matters: 10 Life Lessons From 10 Years on Broadway.
And for more insight on renunciation of the ego, listen to this terrific interview with Barry Michels, co-author of Coming Alive: 4 Tools to Defeat Your Inner Enemy, Ignite Creative Expression & Unleash Your Soul’s Potential.
I’ll be back on FB Live tomorrow Tues. July 3 at 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT to dive deeper on this topic of bringing your authentic self to your performances and to the music you write. Please join the conversation! And in the next weeks, I’m going to be moving my FB Lives over to a closed FB group to offer more Q&A and resources for terrific musicians looking to up their game. Be on the lookout for your invite in coming weeks!
PS: The CV Master Course wrapped on Thursday and I just want to say what a pleasure it was to work with such a terrific group of talented musicians—the feedback, generosity, and insights that everyone offered made for a fascinating multi-layered learning experience—THANK YOU!
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As always, I appreciate your feedback, and if you’re interested in receiving coaching from me, let’s talk! I’m at Angela@BeyondTalentConsulting.com.
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well