As we celebrate our country’s birthday and the freedom that we are lucky enough to have go along with being a citizen of that country, I’m quickly reminded of the everyday freedom that most of us not only take for granted, but more often than not don’t even recognize. That’s the freedom to choose how we experience life.
As a fan of live improvisational music, I’m often enamored by not just the music and the way my body reacts to it, but also the journey of the improvised music itself. When done to my liking, an improvised jam will be made up of an ebb and flow of energy that keeps you paying attention and waiting for the proper release. Sometimes you’re not sure where it’s going to go, but often the longer you pay attention to the changes, the more you get invested mentally in the path that the song may be taking.
As a life coach who typically works with clients who are musicians or others within the music industry, I’ve found the act of creating improvisational music or participating in a jam to be an interesting comparison/metaphor for how they approach their interaction with life.
Here is a quick list of 5 lessons that we can steal from musicians and apply to everyday life:
1. Be Present ~ When I ask my clients “When do you perform best?” typical answers are: “When I’m in the zone – when I’m not thinking about anything else. When I’m listening. When I’m not worried about what’s going to happen next.” In other words, they’re not worried about what happened earlier that day and they’re not worried about what song their going to play next. They are looking at, listening, and feeling everything that is going on in that moment and recognizing that they are a part of it. They are creating.
2. Be You ~ We all bring millions of unique seconds of past experience into everything that we do. When we embrace who we are and add that to how we create and participate in the song of life, we our signature and style to everything we do. Feel your part and play it because it aligns with who you are and what you’re there to create.
3. Play with Others ~ This is a two part lesson:
A) Intentionally spend time with others who have similar tastes, styles, interests, purposes and goals. Be open to teaching and learning from them.
B) Intentionally spend time with others who have different tastes, styles, interests, purposes and goals. Be open to teaching and learning from them.
4. Share your Gifts ~ We are creators. For my clients, they are creating music. For you it may be another form of art, such as photography, painting, writing, cooking, or entrepreneurship. It may just be how you interact socially with others in conversation. We first and foremost often create for our own benefit because of an innate drive to express ourselves, and make sense of and enjoy this crazy adventure called life. But if we keep those creations to ourselves, in this coach’s opinion we are doing our gifts and natural drive to create a disservice. When we share our creations, we are giving that which has been given to us. By giving, we offer opportunity for others to align with, be inspired and or entertained by our creation, and even potentially co create more with us.
5. Learn from the Experience – From the musician’s perspective, the end of every performance can be an opportunity to decide what they learned from what just came out of their existence. For the rest of us it may just be the end of each day that gives us that opportunity. The great news is, (and this is where that freedom of choice thing comes into play) that we can love what we created and experienced or we can choose to prefer it went in a completely different direction. Both are choices and both can benefit our journey. Of course there is third choice which is to hate it, and wish it never happened at all, but that choice doesn’t serve us or any purpose that empowers us to be who we deserve to be.
Part of being free is to recognize that we are free. Free to experience joy, adventure, awareness, growth, change and life. The other part of that is to then make the conscious choice to participate accordingly. Improvising in the song of life with purpose takes some practice, but when we do it means we have an opportunity to build that internal super muscle which is able to listen, feel and participate simultaneously. Anticipating and creating changes instead of dreading them or being scared of which direction they may go. Sometimes as part of that practice we become awkward or uncomfortable. In those moments I suggest that we choose to be present and press on. Let go of the end of the song and follow the flow. Allow yourself to feel the flow and it will only lead to more creation.
When done correctly, not only do we feel the flow of this song of life but so do our co-creators and our audience and they react accordingly. This in turn creates more energy, more alignment, and more freedom.
Freedom is a choice. Sing your song. Create.