Just like in a cafe, we talk about everything. Nothing heavy. Just talk over a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


“If you're interested, you'll do what's convenient. If you're committed, you'll do whatever it takes.”
– John Assaraf

About a month ago, I attended a seminar filled with many of today’s current marketing ideas… replacing the hourly model, leveraging programs and packages, utilizing automation and optimizing social media.  I’ve been reading and taking courses in this area for years, but am always eager to learn more.

On the first day, a rather frustrated woman shared the impact her work was having on her marriage.  No matter what she did, no matter how she tried to implement balance, she was getting nowhere.  She was too much of a workaholic she said, and nothing she’d done over almost a decade seemed to be able to change that, to the detriment of both her career and relationship.

Until that point, I’d been diligently taking notes and imagining how I’d implement the ideas in my own practice.  Yet as this woman spoke and interacted with the leader, my mind began to drift to thoughts about my own marriage, a relationship that really works in my life.  And I started to imagine that everything being discussed was actually about relationships and it hit me… little we were talking about would have been remotely helpful.

Why?  Because all of the tools, techniques, and tricks in the world won’t help a person who is not committed to an extraordinary relationship and willing to do whatever it takes to have one.  The same was true for those of us in that room unwilling to do whatever it takes to bring our businesses to the next level.

This isn’t to say that people don’t need or benefit from acquiring new information or specific tool sets (or communities in which to learn and share).  Of course we do, every one of us, in every area of life.

Yet that information—any information—only becomes useful when we implement it.

So long as this woman—whether consciously or otherwise—remains committed to white-knuckle controlling her career, as well as putting her marriage second, no amount of knowledge will result in a change.  Her commitment needs to shift, and only then can any tools and techniques become helpful in both her career and marriage.

I see this all the time in my work with performers.  Just last week, I was working with a tenor who knows exactly what to do to get the results he wants with his voice.  We’d worked a few years ago to remove some tensions that had been vocally holding him back, and since that time, he’s been singing beautifully and touring the country on high profile and paying jobs.

Yet when he walked through my door last Wednesday, he was overwhelmed with frustration.  Different coaches, singers, and books he’d read on the road all had different ideas and advice on the voice that left him confused… how could he take the next step in his career with all of this intellectual uncertainty?  Perhaps he needed to stop performing for a while so that he could dedicate himself to better understanding these different perspectives…

Hearing him sing confirmed my suspicions that the confusion wasn’t in any way vocal, which enabled us to tackle the real cause of his overwhelm: gathering more information seems a lot less nerve-wracking than making the next move in his career by stepping up to the biggest stages in town and indeed, the world.

Whether we’re performers or business owners, a good number of us don’t need any more information to achieve our goals.  Instead, we need to commit to taking action and then actually do so, regardless of how nervous we might be about playing a much bigger game.

The next time you want to improve in an area of your life, ask yourself:  “Do I really need more information, or do I just need to pluck up the courage to act?”  This is particularly true in the areas we’ve been working on for a long, long time… Are we really benefitting from more courses, coaching, and guidance, or are we just not yet sick and tired enough of the status quo to make a change?

This self-inquiry into what’s really going on is often worth far more than all the seminars in the world.  The choice and commitment to put your family first… to take bold action in your business or community… to claim responsibility for a talent and your stewardship of it in the face of any fear or uncertainty… These course corrections happen in a moment, after which we each have a lifetime to acquire whatever information and tools we may need to help us get there more powerfully.

Jennifer Hamady is a voice coach and counselor specializing in techincal and emotional issues that interfere with self-expression. Based in New York City, Jennifer works in private practice with musicians and non-musicians to discover, develop, and confidently release their personal, professional, and creative potential.  Her clients include Grammy, CMA, Emmy, and Tony award-winners, as well as corporate clients across an array of industries.

Jennifer’s insights have been captured in her book: The Art of Singing: Discovering and Developing Your True Voice, heralded as a breakthrough in the psychology of personal and musical performance by BackStage and Variety.  Based upon her experiences as a coach and singer (she spent the early part of her career performing and touring with artists and companies including Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Patti LaBelle, Wyclef Jean, Def Leppard, Lee Ann Womack and Cirque du Soleil), the book offers all people a path toward effortless and joyful self-expression. Jennifer's second book, Learning to Sing: A Transformative Approach to Vocal Performance and Instruction, was released last year.  

Jennifer is currently working on her third book, as well as a regular feature for The Huffington Post and American Songwriter, as well as a column for The Examiner, dedicated to celebrating men and women that make a difference in their communities through their creative ventures.  She conducted her undergraduate and graduate work in classical Vocal Performance & Pedagogy and Psychology, respectively.


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