Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The World Needs Your Passion



The passion fruit is a wonderful fruit. It is small, perfectly formed and leaves you with a rush of sharp sweetness in the mouth. Like sunshine on a Spring morning, it invigorates, wakes you up. This is what passion can do. But before you write off pursuing your own passion as a whimsical self indulgence, consider where this value-judgement came from. You? Or a system that relies on people devaluing their genuine passions to drive it?

Read below an interview with Corrina Gordon Barnes, a refreshing new voice in the world of entrepreneurship, outspoken about the need for your passion in a consumerist system that has - arguably - alienated people from their passionate selves, that tells us 'we are consumers, not contributors'. In a world that is changing at unprecendented rates, you following your true inspiration, your dreams, is more precious than ever before. Whatever that passion is: for the arts, science, health or spirituality - follow your bliss.

Believe it or not, your passion could be a raw ingredient for global transformation ...

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Corrina, why does the world need your passion?

We humans are interdependent. When I hold back my contribution, my community suffers. When you don't act upon your passion, we all miss out.

We've created a society which has made it so easy to forget that we are needed. Cheap oil has created the foundation for industrialized nations which position us as consumers instead of contributors. The truth is: We are each of us precious, finite resources. We only have a brief moment in history in which to fully experience each of our unique gifts. It's not okay to squander the planet's natural resources and nor is it acceptable to waste our own potential.

Among us there are people who can turn old plastics to jewellery, teach children to cook, inspire an MP, design sustainable homes, chair community meetings, give healing massages, forage for wild food, create powerful film documentaries, write songs and make clothes. We need all these gifts. In these transition years, as we explore how to create a truly sustainable society, we need all the obvious environmentally useful skills and we also need people who can tell jokes, organize offices, care for children and counsel relationships. People who know how to clean buildings, paint, spread the word, design websites, campaign for justice.

What are you truly passionate about? When do you feel most alive? What is your unique contribution to society - that thing that only you can do in exactly the way you do it? These are the important questions to ask.

How do you keep connected with yours, Corrina?

I'm continually receiving new information about what I'm passionate about; the details shift from day to day. I stay alert to that - fluid and flexible - rather than feeling stuck in a particular groove.

I was preparing a seminar on social media recently and just wasn't feeling excited by it anymore; I begrudgingly took my plans to London and ended up writing the seminar in the lobby of the Paddington Hilton which felt very different from my home office and it helped me realize that I want to take this work further afield and in to new areas of business.

If I get involved with a project and then find that my enthusiasm wanes, I have a couple of options. I can dig deep and reconnect with what is important about the project - which might be a new motivation from what I felt originally. Or I may need to let it go for a while and see if my enthusiasm remerges.

There's something about trusting that we can let go of projects and they'll either come back to us in a different form OR they weren't really right for us in the first place. That involves trust and it involves a belief that the most important measure with any venture is whether our passion is present. I also connect with what I'm passionate about by surrounding myself with other supportive, inspirational people and by continually putting myself forward to learn new things. I make sure I spend time outdoors where life moves at a different pace from behind my computer, and that I spend regular time in meditation, allowing the still voice within to speak to me and offer guidance.

What 'gift' or piece of advice could you give that will keep women inspired to keep going?

My advice would be: The path of finding and following your passion is a rich journey. It will throw many challenges your way and will also bring you deep joy. As the saying goes, "No-one said it would be easy, they said it would be worth it". Once you've committed to it, know that you will find the resources (both inner and outer) that you need for that journey. Ask for help, remind yourself why you're doing it, make sure you celebrate even the smallest achievements.

In terms of a gift, I offer free subscription to The World Needs Your Passion, my fortnightly newsletter, which delivers inspirational articles straight to your inbox twice a month. Subscribe here: You Inspire Me

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Thursday, 1 April 2010

Happy Easter: Rebirth, Re-Invention and Letting Go ...


Photo by Amelia Mary

Spring, April Fools and Easter is a time long associated with transformation, re-birth, re-invention. It ain't all about the daffodils, chocolate eggs and joking around: before 1752, England's new year even began on 25 March. In Tarot, The Fool signifies making a leap; new life, new adventures. As photographer Amelia Mary who's currently collaborating with me on an exciting re-invention on the Tarot as a glamorous female mythology commented, (she is shrewd): 'human beings are constantly influx in terms of our physical make-up and our mental development'. We are always changing, yet fight change. 'How transient and fragile our existence is'. But this journey of reinvention can happen at anytime, anywhere, to anyone ...

I've recently had to let go of something incredibly precious to me, that was fundamentally flawed. It is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it's painful. But I'm choosing to look at it as a chance to clear dead wood from the decks. As French philosopher Helene Cixous writes, these are "deaths-as-beginnings". It's a chance to let go of what you don't need, and decide what you do. This Easter, I need quiet time, and nice things. I'm filling my house with daffodils. I'm not just eating chocolate bunnies, I'm being given a real one - a tiny dwarf rabbit! I make no apologies for how girly this really is; I have always, always wanted one.

Spring is an excellent time to Spring Clean your life and renew your passions. If your idea needs a boost of inspiration, why not take part in Kick Start Your Venture led by Corrina Gordon-Barnes in Cambridge this April? Pamper yourself, give yourself and your ideas the time you need.

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5 TIPS for Renewal, Rebirth, Reinvention

1. Spring Cleaning is not just about your physical space, it's a holisitic process. Declutter your space, your work, your life of outdated baggage. Sweep your house from top to bottom, and pay special attention to where you work - whether at home or in your own office or studio. Space-clearing is a powerful process.
2. Recycle. Hold a clothes-swap with friends. I'm only just returning clothes swapped with a girlfriend two years ago! Customise clothes rather than just sling them. Remember charity shops can't always take old garmets and often send them to landfill. E Bay can be worth the effort and make you a tidy little windfall. Why not set up your own little online boutique? Hold a bookswap?
3. Reconnect with your core values, your ideas. Make a list of 10 words that crystallise your core values in life. These are the values that shape your work, your daily life. How true to them are you being?
4. Revisualise what you hold dear. Cut out images that illustrate these values, paint or draw them; bling them up with glitter! This is also a powerful branding exercise and works well with a whole dream book full of vibrant images that represent your projects and work. Put the vision-map somewhere you can see it every day. Add to it! Have fun with it!
5. Release your fears. Take a leap. Go somewhere you have never been before. Stretch yourself. Embrace change. Do something brilliant!

As the financial year re-starts and we approach Easter, what regeneration can you bring into your projects? How can you Spring Clean your work and your goals? What can you choose to let go of, that is no longer helpful? Take the time out this weekend to consider who you really, truly want to be. And rest.

Happy Easter!!!

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We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go. We become something new by ceasing to be something old. This seems to be close to the heart of that mystery. I know no more now than I ever did about the far side of death as the last letting-go of all, but now I know that I do not need to know, and that I do not need to be afraid of not knowing. Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Hip Girl Interview: Tessa Souter

Here is a story from one of those inspirational artists that you read about who successfully followed her dream later on in life ... and made it! Except that she followed not one but TWO dreams, and made them BOTH happen. Jazz singer, writer and author of Anything I Can Do YOU Can Do Better, Tessa Souter is a woman who is not only an inspiration, but has enough generosity and compassionate belief in others to want to see them do the same.

You can see throughout her story how important friendship and encouragement from others has been to her. Who can you support in your midst? Who are your biggest believers?

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Where did the inspiration for your book, Anything I Can Do, YOU Can Do Better, come from?

A friend who I used to co-coach with nagged me to do it. She thought I would write a good book. I mentioned it to another friend who was an agent and she said, "if you do that book, Tessa, I will agent it." And then she bullied and pushed me into doing a proposal. And then she got Random House to buy it. Then my Random House editor nagged and pushed me throughout what was an incredibly difficult year in my personal life that no one really knew about. So I had encouragement from lots of sources.

What made you first decide at 31, to really try and make a living as a writer?

My brother and I had always wanted to be writers since childhood. I had my first poem published in the Dartington Times when I was 11. It was about the wind! Plus I loved writing stories and epic poems and all my teachers would fall all over my parents about it until about age 12, when I became a rebel at school. Friends used to send me books and say "YOU COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS!" I studied English Lit at university when I went back to school when my son was 8. My first job after university was editing reports and proposals for a ghastly engineering firm. So I started looking every week in the Guardian media page for jobs. Then one day I got a job at Parents magazine as an editorial assistant. A few weeks into that I got comissioned to write an article about doing adult things with kids, like going to opera or ballet, and picking good operas or ballets for kids. My editor loved it and made me do more. From there it snowballed.

How and why did you then successfully re-invent yourself as a jazz singer?

Ah well that is still a work in progress, the success bit. I played guitar and sang from age 12. I would have been a singer but instead I had my son at 16 and ran away from home (ran away first, then had him). Kind of put the kybosh on that dream as then I had to be a responsible parent. When he was grown up, probably around 21 or 22I sang at a kareoke bar in San Francisco and someone there who heard me called the bar after they'd left and asked me out on a date. We went out every week to hear live music for 6 months and sometimes we would sit in. We both sang. Then we became a couple and he spent years persuading me that I could do it as a job. When he fell out of love with me, it seemed it was a great way to get his positive attention. He still encouraged my singing, even when he was seeing other women. But in the end we broke up and then I really NEEDED singing. It's a fantastic painkiller. And people would hear me at open mic jams and ask where they could come and see me perform. Then a friend had me sit in on his regular Friday gig and I got offered a regular Saturday gig by the restaurant and it all kind of grew from there.

What is the most significant challenge you've had to overcome as a professional artist, and how did you do it?

Still working on that one. I think the biggest challenge is that 90% of the work you do as a professional is nothing to do with ACTUAL singing. The actual singing bit is easy and wonderful and fun and i love it. But that is one hour to about nine of behind the scenes stuff of promoting, getting gigs, getting past the gatekeepers, doing it whatever mood you are in, making sure that people come out because you owe that to the venue, (as well as it being more fun for you). And your body being your instrument means that in spite of doing all that stuff and trying to make a living and all the unbelievable stress of that, you have to remain fit!

What insight into your practice has kept you going the most?

That if you keep putting one foot in front of the other towards your dream, you will see progress. The universe kind of joins in. You might not always see it yourself but then you have your friends around to support you. So even if you don't feel like doing something -- like practicing or learning new material or whatever, you must force yourself. One of the amazing rewards is how much insight you get into yourself when you compose. At the end of some of my songs I think, "Wow! Now I know EXACTLY what that incident/person/thing meant to me."

What priceless tip can you leave as a final 'gift' to aspiring singers and writers to help them accomplish their dreams?

Read Tessa's final gift on Creative Resistance