Until recently I had never heard of Annie Lennox. Singer, song-writer and human rights activist, she has sold 80 million albums, won four Grammys and gained considerable fame in her musical and activist career. But why should she be featured in a Harvard Business Review article (October, 2010) and why should we focus on her ideas in a newsletter that deals mostly with coaching, leadership, and people-building?
Annie Lennox is a performer and in many ways so are we. Few of us may be musicians or political activists but if we teach at any level, lead, help others or serve in ministry we have audiences and need to connect with the people we guide. The following quotations in italics are observations from Lennox.
- What is the secret of staying relevant? According to Lennox the answer is “curiosity, and not allowing yourself to be boxed in or easily categorized.” We also need to be aware of what’s going on around us. This involves stretching our thinking, connecting with people who are not like us, and exposing ourselves to new experiences. This is not for everybody but the alternative can be getting into ruts so we are less able to make a difference.
- How do you prepare to perform? “You need to rehearse so you’re confident” when you step on stage or lead. It’s also important to be well rested and in good shape. Performing or leading can be good learning experiences that help us do better next time.
- How do you handle negativity and self-criticism? Recognize the ever lurking dangers of losing confidence. “Very quickly your negative, critical side tends to step in. You have to have confidence and you get that by just doing what you do and doing it a lot.” You also get it by prayer and by trusting God to lead and give you peace and guidance.”
- How do you convey your message? “Human stories touch people. But the challenge is to take an audience from being moved to seeing a way forward….Remain practical, logical and positive.”
How do you proactively nurture your curiosity? How do you maintain confidence when your critical side comes in? Are you harnessing the power of human story into your work?