Recently, I stumbled across this article that discusses the one common trait of all great leaders. This is self-awareness. The article notes how all the greats throughout history had a presence about them that transcended their own personal selves and went on to influence others. This self-awareness can come in many different forms, and in fact this idea resonates personally with me as a musician.
Every year, my university holds a symposium dedicated to body awareness, specifically for the music department. In it we do a lot of exercises to make us aware of how we tense up when we go to perform. The symposium seeks to aid us in performance to be aware of what in our bodies is making us more tense and nervous, which makes performing so much harder. Now that you get that in a nutshell, you’ll understand why I had a cool experience with self-awareness.
The last thing one of our instructors had each of us do was to stand before small groups of peers while he “worked on us.” When it was my turn, I tensed up anytime his hand got near me. He told me to relax and to not close myself off to protect myself from my peers. He said to just be with myself and to be with everyone in the room. Soon, he started encouraging me to rock back and forth with his hand on my back, and as I focused on that and everyone in the room, something miraculous (at least to me) happened. My instructor told me to look at my peers. They had started rocking back and forth too, but they weren’t conscious of it! It’s the power of suggestion, and the fact that I was aware of my actions while also “being with them in the room.” With that practice, I went on to feel like I truly could perform without freaking out, and I feel like I can be a leader, if I remember that!
Try it sometime. Next time you speak for an audience or go to perform or even go to hang out with friends, take a minute to be aware of your entire body: your finger tips, your toes, your breath, your back. Then look around and just take in your environment. Not only is it relaxing, but you’ll better be able to “be with people,” especially if that idea makes you nervous like it does with me! Best of luck!