I hope you have the time to see this sweet and somewhat historic snapshot.
This week end I spoke at length with a client. She is aspiring to a more artful, creative life. She feels restricted by her limited education. She loves learning. She adores adding new words to her vocabulary but is embarrassed when she pronounces them and has someone correct her.
She was (at first) surprised to learn that President Bill Clinton mispronounces words all the time. He, in fact, invited the press corps to correct him. “It’s how I expand my vocabularly.” I explained to her that President Clinton understands that the smartest people are willing to make mistakes for the sake of learning. They are willing to allow others to correct them, actually INVITE others to correct them, for the sake of becoming better, smarter and stronger. I shared that the capacity to do something that is new or uncomfortable – and be willing to not do it perfectly in order to learn and honor the experience – is a model of courage that President Clinton provides for her.
Learning this about someone as smart as Bill Clinton empowered this young woman.
Imagine being a guest at an event to honor someone. Thousands of people are gathered. And YOU are surprised to be asked, in front of the entire group, to come up to the stage and sing a song with a popular singer and a choir. You don’t know what song. You are not a professional singer…and this is something you had absolutey NO IDEA would be asked of you.
THAT is exactly what happened to Bill Clinton at Shimon Peres’s 80 birthday fete in Israel. Did Bill Clinton object? Did he qualify the moment? Did he explain that he’s a competent musician, but not a singer? No, he did not. He rose up. He walked tall. Yes, he did express visual discomfort. Wouldn’t you? This elder statesmen of the world put his hands to his face at what was being asked of him. But HE DID IT. In front of a choir made up of 40 Israeli children and 40 Arab children, he joined a pop star named Liel singing IMAGINE by John Lennon.
IMAGINE. He picked up steam as the song progressed. As he left his embarrassment behind him and understood the significance and power of the moment, he accepted a microphone and found his voice. And he sang it out strong. HE DID IT.
The same animating, courageous principle that allows Bill Clinton to have his vocabulary corrected, that enables him to rise up and sing in front of thousands, is available to me. To you. The motivation is that the long term result is more significant, more desirable that the short term discomfort. How might this inspiration impact the way you walk through your day? I hope you will allow it to inspire you as it has inspired me.