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Scarcity-Based Thinking

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I've been having a wonderful conversation with my friend and colleague Kate Sawert about confidence and competition. The struggle to both attain and maintain the former and the dual-edge sword of motivation and isolation that the latter bears. In sitting down today to share some of what we've learned and discovered together, I was struck by the overlap of many ideas I've had for future blogs, as well as themes from my past ones. The topics vary, but a fundamental issue binds them together. That issue is scarcity-based thinking: a mentality that says there's a limited amount of time, money and love to go around. A belief that there's a restricted amount of opportunity, talent, success and power in the world and that life is a game of chasing, rather than creating, of reacting rather than enacting. A mindset and that there is no such thing as too good to be true-- that indeed something's always gotta give. In my studio, this way of thinking presents itself in what I call the either/or mentality. The choice that seems to be made between concentration and joy; consciously understanding and intuitively knowing; technique and abandon and between thinking and singing. I see musical geniuses refusing to attempt to develop their technical minds for fear of somehow detracting from their creative gifts. Conservatory-trained singers clinging to their technical understanding of music, rather than considering that an entirely new way of experiencing and sharing that sacred language might exist. This scarcity dance is not only performed by singers and musicians, but by all of us. It's in the water. It's our second National Anthem, and we start drinking the Kool-Aid and singing along when we're very young: Are you a real man, or a pansy? Are you going to be spiritually or financially fulfilled? Are you a professional or an artist? Are you successful or a dreamer? What one thing are you? For women, the choice we're asked to make at a very early age is whether we're smart or pretty. Logically, we know, as we get older that we can be both. Intellectually, we're aware of the mind-tricks of the media and society. Publicly, we encourage each other to be both, demand recognition of both, and adore both in ourselves. But in our quiet moments, in the center of our beings, most of us are still stuck clinging to the one that we chose long ago to root our confidence, while aching for, and envying in others, the one we're certain we lack. A corporate client and I were exploring this issue a couple of weeks ago. A beautiful, feminine, classy woman, she had worked her way up the ranks and taken over the top role in her firm. She had done this all while raising a family, going to graduate school, starting a charitable organization, sitting on five corporate boards and happily and meaningfully partnering with her husband of 25 years. Still, she struggles with simultaneously wanting to enjoy her sensuality and femininity, and feeling guilty for what have always been and continue to be constant hindrances in the workplace. Struggles with the opposing desires of wanting to be sexy and feminine, and respected, admired and needed. We can put a person on the moon. We can create symphonies of the most beautiful music. We can cure disease, graft skin, clone animals why have we yet to cure the world and ourselves of the ridiculous notion of scarcity? Contrary to the fear-filled, power-hoarding voices that tell us we need to divide and conquer the best of what we are, the world -- and we -- are temples of abundance that only find peace in a state of balance. We are yin and yang, dark and light. Without one, the entire system falls. Imagine it. Women feeling smart and sexy, demanding respect for both aspects of themselves from themselves and others. Men as comfortable with their emotional sides as their masculinity, and the educational and cultural systems finally holding accountable the schoolyard bullies and those that raise them. Young adults, who seek economic and spiritual enlightenment, who become artists in any and every profession. Being technically flawless and vocally liberated. That would be one giant leap for mankind. This essay first published April 28, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.  To read more from Jennifer,visit: http://www.jenniferhamady.com/.


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