The voice is a window on the soul. The seat of the soul is not inside a person, or outside a person, but the very place where they overlap and meet the world."
Gerald de Nerval
In this 7th article in the EDUCHAOS series Marie Jasinski explores tuning into to your own edge and finding your own voice by discovering your signature strengths and authentic happiness!
Scenario 1: Tuning in to your own voice
Marty’s story & The performance
Scenario 2: Snap out of it
Tuning into the edge of chaos
So here goes!
Crows – they have a unique voice
Tuning in to your own voice
Door of hotel room opens. Marty enters with look of accomplishment and triumph on his face
“I did it! That was the hardest thing I have done in my life. But it was a real buzz.”
“You did it? Well done! That's amazing!”
The very thought of what Marty had just done sent shivers down my spine. It was enough to make me want to shrivel up into a ball and fade away. A nasty tight feeling caught in my throat. I knew I couldn’t do it. It was too much of a stretch for me. I had to check again, just to make sure.
“You mean you really did it?”
“YES! YES! YES”
What a sight it is to see a grown man skip around the room with a renewed sense of liberation.
So what had Marty done that had resulted in so much elation and sense of accomplishment?
He had been to a Joy of Singing workshop!
Stop. Rewind and check this out again. Was that a Joy of Singing workshop?
Yes it was.
Time for the context. We were at an Applied Improvisation Network Conference in San Francisco. The Joy of Singing was one of the workshop options. Yet it wasn’t really about singing as the workshop overview made clear:
The Joy of Singing! TM Leadership Training, now in its 28th year, has nothing to do with how to sing. It provides easy-to-use tools and techniques in group and individual exercises that turn fear, embarrassment, and self-criticism into improved communication, increased power, spontaneity, and expanded ability to risk in the workplace. The session is 100% participatory. Think you can’t sing? Are you sure you can’t? DON’T THINK, SING!
So it wasn't about singing, yet everyone sang. Did it expand the ability to risk and turn around fear and self-criticism? It certainly seemed to have an impact on Marty! AND his group was performing that night at the conference dinner.
Here's Marty’s story for a first hand account of his experience
The Performance: Listen to the choir singing “On a clear day” (277KB)
Marty’s the one with the beard in the centre singing his heart out!
If Marty was so triumphant, why was I exhibiting all the symptoms of fear, embarrassment and self-criticism just thinking about singing in public?
Here’s my story
SNAP OUT OF IT – Don’t worry, be happy, be very happy
Location: Keynote presentation TrainingFall Conference, San Francisco, October 2004
“If you go to anything, go to this one.”
This was the advice of my colleague Thiagi in response to a request to sift out the best and most worthwhile presentations at the conference. It was to hear Professor Martin Seligman from the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Pennsylvania, present a keynote on the topic Why Happiness Matters: Applying Positive Psychology to Authentic Work.
Dr Seligman gave an eloquent presentation on the topic of positive psychology – a movement in psychology which emphasizes what is right with people rather than what is wrong with them.
It involves the study of positive emotion (like confidence, flow, hope and trust), positive traits (like wisdom, courage and justice) and positive institutions (like democracy and free press). Professor Seligman introduced the underpinning concepts of authentic happiness and signature strengths, all of which are outlined in his book Authentic Happiness. which I promptly purchased and read.
Authentic Happiness, distinguishes between momentary and enduring happiness.
Momentary happiness can easily be increased by any number of uplifts such as chocolate, a comedy film, a back rub, a compliment…transient bursts of happiness.
Enduring happiness is about achieving longer term, sustainable happiness. One of the ways to do this is to identify your strengths and talents and build on them.
Strengths and talents
Prof Seligman differentiates between strengths and talents. Talents like perfect pitch or lightning speed are innate, relatively automatic and nonmoral:
For the most part, you either have a talent or you don't; if you are not born with perfect pitch or the lungs of a long-distance runner, there are, sadly severe limits on how much of them you can acquire.
(Seligman, 2002, p, 134)
(Did my ears prick up with that one – it’s a fact. I don’t have an innate singing talent. The teacher was right. I am a crow after all. It was her way of conveying it that was a bit insensitive. Go with the flow. End of story. And anyway, I like crows!)
Strengths on the other hand are moral traits which can be built up and developed through choice, practice and determination.
A strength involves choices about when to use it and whether to keep building it, but also whether to acquire it in the first place.
(Seligman, 2002, p.135)
Twenty four strengths have been identified and include curiosity and interest in the world; love of learning; judgement/critical thinking/openmindedness; social intelligence; perspective; valour and bravery; perseverance; integrity; kindness and generosity; loving; citizenship; fairness and equity; leadership; self-control; prudence, humility; appreciation of beauty and excellence; gratitude; hope and optimism; spirituality; forgiveness; playfulness and humour; zest, passion and enthusiasm.
Out of these 24, you can identify your signature strengths – those that are most characteristic of you. This is easy to identify because they can be measured by taking the Signature Strengths Survey.
So I did the signature strengths survey and discovered mine are:
- Creativity, Ingenuity and originality
- Humour and playfulness
- Love of learning
- Capacity to love and be loved
- Curiosity and interest in the world.
Here's the best bit. You can maximise satisfaction and enjoyment in your work and life, if you can deploy your signature strengths. Our signature strengths can be nurtured throughout our lives, with benefits to our health, relationships, and careers.
Authentic Happiness is an interesting book to read. A particular paragraph stood out for me headed Dwelling in the past.
The major traumas of childhood may have some influence on adult personality, but only a barely detectable one. Bad childhood events, in short, do not mandate adult troubles. (p.67)
(Did my ears prick up with that one – it’s a fact. I don’t have an innate singing talent. The teacher was right. I am a crow after all. It was her way of conveying it that was a bit insensitive. Go with the flow. End of story. Well not quite. Can’t blame or dwell in my past for my current state of cringe factor over singing in public. Got to be responsible and use my signature strengths to take charge. Got to take myself to the edge to that fine line between order and chaos! Got to tune into my own voice. And anyway, I like crows!)
The theme of this series is Educhaos – applying the concept of Edge of Chaos to an educational context. This is definitely about application – living the experience.
It’s about challenging yourself to move from this:
Come to the edge
I am afraid
Come to the edge
I am afraid
She pulled right back
And she withdrew
Come to the edge
I am afraid
Come to the edge
I am afraid
She pushed herself
And she flew
SO HERE GOES
On the edge of chaos, tuning into my own voice with my rendition of “On a Clear Day”
On a Clear Day (887KB)
I did it! On the edge and jiving!
So remember, don’t worry, be happy, be very happy!
Send this to a friend or play it to yourself!
CROWS. They have a unique voice – it’s a signature strength!http://www.shades-of-night.com/aviary/sounds/ausraven.auA story about the crowhttp://www.doubletakemagazine.org/articles/html/frazier/index.php
Wikipedia: Definition of Positive Psychology
Seligman, M. (2002) Authentic Happiness. Free Press.
Articles in the EDUCHAOS series
EDUCHAOS: out of control and thriving!
EDUCHAOS- Disruptive Technologies
EDUCHAOS: Using improv and storytelling in business
EDUCHAOS: Job Sculpting - in tune with making work WORK!
EDUCHAOS: Patchworking – showing off your assets
EDUCHAOS: Go Conative - where there’s will, you’re away!
EDUCHAOS: Tuning in to your own voice!
EDUCHAOS: Loose change – a new currency