“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change,” says Brené Brown of TED Talk fame.
All creative endeavors require some vulnerability. It wouldn’t be creative if there wasn’t a piece of ourselves that we put into our work. My biggest lessons in vulnerability have come from opening my mouth for others to see and hear.
My real laugh is a loud, big, open-mouthed laugh. It isn’t always pretty but it is real, loud and quite contagious.
Throughout my life I always thought I was a terrible singer. Although I liked singing to myself (and from the youngest of ages I always sang with a cute little twang) I never sang when others were around. I was silent during the happy birthday song, Christmas caroling, and church songs. Then in late 2004 I took up the upright bass, joined a band and began performing. My band mate began pushing me to sing when he would write songs that hit notes that he couldn’t reach. After much cajoling I would give it a try overcome with shyness. I would quietly sing and fail miserably but he was encouraging and wouldn’t let up.
Finally, I found two keys to unlocking the inner singer I had hiding inside. First, I had to belt it out. If I held back in any way it didn’t sound as good. I wasn’t able to project and wasn’t able to reach the high notes. Second, I had to open my mouth. This might sound obvious. But for me that was a vulnerability hurdle I had to learn to jump over. Opening my mouth so widely that others could see my fillings was the key to belting it out. It is part symbolic and part physiological. When I open my mouth wide I stop holding back. The same is true about my laughter. My real laugh is a loud, big, open-mouthed laugh. It isn’t always pretty but it is real, loud and quite contagious.
Now I am a singer, not a begrudging singer nor the singer by default but a proud singer. I open my mouth and let my true self out. I open my mouth and let others in. When my mouth is open wide I am vulnerable and some beautiful creativity emerges from such places.
What is your creative equivalent of a big, open mouth?