Goal!

Welcome back! I trust you had a good Christmas and New Year.

Now the eagle eyed among you will have noticed my last post of the year was a bit advanced…as in it should have been posted in January (not that it was complicated and/or required a doctorate to understand it!) But now we actually are into January, the decorations really are put away in the loft and focus moves on shifting the excess Christmas puddings and mince pies which I accrued over the festive season (oh it was so good), let’s look at the coming year.

Goals for 2015

Goals for 2015

January is traditionally a time of renewal, a time to make resolutions, break bad habits, and start as you mean to go on. And of course, so often we make our lists about working sensibly, being more healthy, losing weight, reading more, spending more (or less?) time with family, be better at reading the bible, join a small group/gym/band… And then we maybe put the list up, or internalise it…or maybe we share it with someone close to us…but by March we’ve slipped a bit, come Easter we have a house full of chocolate, and once we’re into May and the sun’s out…well by then I’ve usually clean forgotten about my resolutions. I remember we did a top 10 resolutions last year as a service opener….which were exactly the same 10 as the previous year.

This year I haven’t done any resolutions…but I have set myself some goals. Arguably there isn’t much of a difference…apples and oranges. But let me tell you more:

10 Goals

I have set myself 10 goals for the year, which are balanced between work, church, family and purely personal. And I’ve been pretty specific about them, so rather than “lose weight” I’ve said “be under 200lbs”. And I’ve made them measurable and targeted, so “be under 200lbs by September”. And then I’ve also put my motivations for each of the goals, so I clearly want to be fitter and healthier by losing weight. And then finally I’ve done some next actions, so “healthy breakfasts, exercise more regularly, no sugar”.

I have all of this down in my note taking software of choice, Evernote, I have a separate entry for each goal, and in addition to to all of the above (Goal, key motivations and next actions) I also have space for progress reports and any other observations…almost like a space to journal on it.

Now this may seem like a colossal amount of effort, but then as in the L’Oreal advert…I’m worth it! And the fact I have next steps, trackable goals and motivation for doing them…I’m confident I’ll stick to them over the year unlike last year’s resolutions (whatever they were…?)

My 2015 promise to you

And one of my goals is to be consistent and planned with my blogging. So here it is. Happy New Year to you all. Look forward to sharing more goals, ideas and experience over the coming months.

Do you have any goals for the year? Care to join me in following them?

Do Something!

Do you ever get weary from all of those talking head programmes, those analysts on the news, the sports “experts” who pull apart the match/game/tournament and tell you exactly how it should have been done, if you’d have done it this way, why it was completely wrong to put “” in goal? Admittedly some of them may well be experts in their field, but they always always spend a lot of time talking about it, but never actually do anything about it!

Over the next couple of Sundays at EBC we are looking at our World Mission, Toy Box this week, and Sierra Leone next week. We have had long term projects with both of them, and ToyBox is probably a well known charity, so let’s look at our friends in Sierra Leone.

I’ve posted about my friend Abs before, as well as Regent Road Baptist Church, so do look back and read about them. We have partnered with RRBC to build a church and a school in Tombo, a fishing village some way out of Freetown in Sierra Leone. The church is completed, and despite the current Ebola crisis, construction on the new school continues and they hope to have it completed soon. Now we at EBC are in the middle of working through a building project, and it’s been slow going. Admittedly, there are many more planning regulations to adhere to and apply for, as well as a difference in the funding…building costs are very different here than they are in West Africa! Incredibly, now the Tombo project is nearing completion, RRBC are looking towards their next plant!

Before their current project is finished, they are already looking ahead to the next need, where to plant, where help is needed!

Step out of your comfort zone!

It can be relatively easy to maintain the status quo, keep things ticking over and do the 9 to 5. It is even easier (and I am just as guilty at this) to criticise and fix from a distance, just like the TV critics.

“Why did they do that song?!”

“I’d have never worn that shirt to deliver a sermon!”

“Who planned that service…I’d never have trusted “” to speak, I’d  have done it this way”

And so the question must be….why didn’t you then?

If you can deliver a really good talk…why don’t you? If you are gifted in worship music, why don’t you join the band? If the church is asking for money for it’s new project why don’t you give? If you have spare time to give, what are you doing with it?

The Matthew West video says it all really:

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

This is also the week that Band Aid 30 have released a new version of Do They Know It’s Christmas, and along with the positive press and big sales which are contributing towards Africa, there has been the almost predictable cynicism. I watched an interview with Bob Geldof on Sky (it was doing the rounds on Facebook), and the thrust of the interview was “why should we pay money for this when you millionaire rockstars don’t pay your taxes…if you did, we wouldn’t need charity singles”. Now I don’t know how much Bob Geldof, or Bono donates every year to charity, or how they pay their taxes, but I’m sure they do. And I know this single will raise significant money for Africa which will help fight the Ebola crisis. And Sir Bob and the rest of Band Aid 30 (and 25, and 20, and the original) are using their gifts, time, and very public presence to actually do something.

Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

What can you do today? Do something!

 

We all fall down

I first heard Tom Baxter when he was supporting one of the artists I was working for at the time. It was just coincidence they were on the same label, so he had been sent out to push his new album…the upcoming artist getting some much needed exposure on the back of someone much biggestaircase1r. The venue was the Albert Hall, which added to the pressure, and of course, only being the support act meant a short time slot at the beginning with a small band and limited equipment. What followed was quite astonishing to me, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Apologies, I couldn't find this anywhere on YouTube!!!

This Boy on the MTV site

Now not only does Tom Baxter possess an incredible voice, his songwriting is quite exceptional too. And it raises the eternal question (which I won’t even attempt to answer now), how do the charts manage to assemble such a hit parade of misses, when there are artists like Tom whom don’t seem to get a look in?

This boy fell down, and now he’s upstanding,
This boy broke down and now he’s got himself going,
‘Cause we all fall down, we all fall down,
But we all stand up somehow

This boy questioned, ‘Will I ever, ever make it through?’
Oh but thank god, this boy’s back now and he’s sticking round to tell you,
That we all fall down, Yeah we all fall down,
But we all stand up somehow?

We all fall down

‘Cause we all fall down. We do! Growing up we go through the toddler stage, learning to take those first steps. Or maybe the first time your stabilisers are taken off of your bike, and you wobble down the street. Or as we get older, whether it’s in keeping new year resolutions, keeping to a gym regime, trying to not eat the second (third?) slice of cake…to websites we know we shouldn’t visit, “friends” who we would be better not to see, habits we formed long ago which are so hard to break. But we also have a choice when we fall, just as we did when we were kids. Do we stay on the floor and wallow, or do we stand up, dust ourselves off, and get going again? And also the way we get up…what we do after we’ve fallen…and what we learn from it can make a big difference to how we go through life.

We all fall down. And we will continue to fall. Choose to stand up, keep going, keep trying, and the next time you fall, it won’t be so far, it won’t be so hard, and the getting up will be easier.

Mistaken Identity

Now I don’t know how old you all are, but when I was going through secondary school, Neighbours was an after school staple. Every lunchtime and evening before tea we got our 25 minutes of good neighbours, with Harold and Madge, Mrs Mangle, Jim Robinson and Toadfish. Unbelievably it is still going (some 6975 episodes as of this week!). Perhaps most famously it launched the careers of Kylie and Jason, Natalie Imbruglia, and less successfully Stefan Dennis aka Paul Robinson. But the subject of todays post is Delta Goodrem, who played schoolgirl and musical prodigy Nina Tucker…in the show she was an aspiring singer while at school, in reality her label had got her cast in the soap to relaunch her career…product placement at it’s finest?!

Mistaken Identity was taken from her second album, and the video, like the song, is tremendously produced…I personally think it looks and sounds fantastic, although I can’t make much sense of the video… The lyrics and the inspiration for the song actually came from Delta’s cancer battle, and how it had changed her outlook on life.

Who are you?

Do you have a case of mistaken identity? Do you know who you are, why you’re here, what your purpose is? I wrote on Friday about finding your calling and realising your passions, based on the passage in Jeremiah where God tells him he has been chosen. I was watching a video interview today between Michael Hyatt and Jeff Goins, where they were talking about being consistent in your blogging. It was a great watch, with some great take homes to digest and work on. But one of the things which stuck out, and I have read and heard pretty consistently since I started doing this blog was about picking yourself, and giving yourself permission.

Only you can do what you can do. I mean, there are thousands of bloggers, drummers, singers, CEO’s, guitarists, Doctors. If I stop blogging today then there will still be thousands of other blogs to read. If Bruce Springsteen retires this week (of his 65th birthday), there will still be musicians releasing records. But the key is only Bruce can sing, write and perform like Bruce. There are several Doctors at my local surgery, they all will have a slightly different opinion, but they will all make me better if I visit them. Other people could write this blog, but no one will produce it the way I do…and no one ever will…for better or for worse!

You were put here to have a specific voice, a given talent, a message to share. As I said on Friday, I can trace my journey to here back over many years, school bands, “chance” meetings, education and friends and family and opportunities…a whole stream of events which, if taken in isolation would make for an interesting story, but taken as a whole describe my story and journey. I have the background, the experience, the knowledge to do this. But there is one missing piece.

Permission

Confidence is the thing which makes all the difference. I can read all of the manuals, watch the instructional videos, and apply it. I can practice in my bedroom, write endlessly on this laptop, devise endless plans and lists. But if I don’t have the confidence to deliver, to perform publicly, to ship it, then I am just a hobbyist. If I give myself the permission, if I call myself a professional, and step up to the microphone, I have broken a significant mental hurdle.

I used to be the drummer at the back of the band, quite happy to play a supporting role in the band, be involved from the sidelines but never quite be in the spotlight, not quite upfront. And then someone called me out on it, knowing I could play guitar and sing, and had a heart for it…they got me to lead the band from the front. And to be honest, I was as nervous as anything, felt way out of my comfort zone and was pretty sucky the first few times that I lead the band. But I stuck at it. I practiced, I learnt, I grew in confidence, and I called myself a worship leader. And now, I am as comfortable leading from the front as I am playing at the back.

Have you worked out your calling, your gifting? If you have, where are you using it? Are you working in your sweet spot, or working up to it? Most importantly, have you given yourself permission? Have you called yourself a writer, a lead guitarist, a preacher, a professional? Have you got everything else in place apart from your mindset?

God chose you. Now choose yourself.

Finding Your Calling

I may (yet again) be showing my age, but unbelievably 2014 is the 20th anniversary of the first series of Friends. Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler and Joey and Phoebe first appeared on our screens the 22nd September, 1994, and stayed there for 10 years, 10 seasons and 236 episodes. And then stayed pretty much on rotation ever since. As Comedy Central are doing their countdown towards the “favourite Friends episodes ever“, I am finding my daughters are discovering this series (as it’s on every evening I get home…), and I am seeing episodes which I possibly missed (who knows?!) or am being reminded of 10 years after broadcast. This clip is from one of their Christmas episodes, where Phoebe has volunteered to collect donations outside Macy’s.

When I left school some 22 years ago, I didn’t really have a clue as to what I wanted to do. I knew what I enjoyed doing (music, concerts, movies, reading), but I had no idea as to how it would translate into a career. And then I went to University and did a degree in Music and Technology, so I learnt more about music, recording, live sound, playing in bands…all of which I really enjoyed. And while I was there I met the girl of my dreams…who is now my wife. But I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do. So I graduated, and got a job as I had a fiancé and plans and bills to pay and student loans to clear. And to be honest, my career path continued along this path for a good few years…I did jobs which paid the bills, kept me employed and which had some semblance of a career path…but really they were all a means to an end.

Finding Your Calling

Finding Your Calling, Discovering Your Gifts, Getting in Your Sweet Spot, Realising your Passion…there are so many phrases and descriptions which we use to describe how we find what we’re best at. And there are plenty of accompanying programmes and surveys, questionnaires and conferences which are devoted to just that goal. I’ve done some of them; when we first set up our leadership team to start our church plant, when we were going through Investors in People at a previous company, they even pop up from time to time on Facebook (although “Your Ideal Dog” and “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” probably don’t count in quite the same way…)

And alongside my “Day Job” (for want of a better word), I have had my church career…starting playing drums for the worship team in Kingston, co leading a church plant in Bracknell, curating creative ideas for our Sunday services and graduating to band leading and worship leading for the whole church. I would comfortably say for the whole of my church career, I have been operating in my sweet spot, growing, learning and developing my skills to be at the stage I am at now…managing the band, putting together our Sunday services, writing new content and leading.

Jeremiah and the art of saying No

This Sunday at EBC we’re continuing our Story series, and looking at Jeremiah. God called on Jeremiah, but he made excuses and said he wasn’t ready, he wasn’t qualified. “I can’t speak for You, I’m too young!” he says. But God called him out, God equipped him, and with God’s help he was able to do his calling. This is a story that repeats through the bible, with Moses and Jonah and Mary…”surely you can’t mean me” or “I would never be good enough” are constant replies. But if you are genuinely called to something, you need to have the faith and courage to pursue it.

As I’ve said before, Steven Curtis Chapman is one of my all time favourite artists, and his songs just have an amazing ability to resonate and speak into so many areas of my life. One which I constantly come back to is I Am Found In You, which has the amazing line:

I may not see, in front of me

But I can see for miles when I look over my shoulder

And Lord it’s clear, You’ve brought me here

So faithful every step of the way

While my day job has been consistent and moderately successful, my church calling has always found me performing according to my gifting and abilities, and they’ve grown and strengthened the whole time. I genuinely do feel as though I’m operating in my sweet spot, and while it really doesn’t pay me a lot of money (and I am fortunate to be able to be paid just a day a week to do this), the challenge, sense of community and satisfaction are second to none.

Some of us may be called to collect coins outside of Macy’s, some have a desire to be CEO’s or tax collectors. Some will be millionaires, and some will just get by. Whatever your situation, find your calling and try to work in your sweet spot…and as you pursue it, no matter what, look over your shoulder occasionally to see where you’ve come from. You may just be surprised.

Stop the World

It’s Monday morning, Hannah is at work, and I’m working from home with two ill children. (am slightly envious that they are watching The Hobbit snuggled up on the sofa, but not at all wanting their colds….)

Not the best start to the week…and I had a band rehearsal last night, leaders meeting tonight, worship team rehearsal Tuesday, staff meeting and church meeting Thursday…where oh where did the weekend go?! We all get weeks like this, sometimes too often.

How Did We Get Here?

The assumption was, with all of the technology which we have and are constantly creating and upgrading, that life would be simpler. The machines would take care of the mundane, simplifying our day to day so we would have more spare time to do the things we loved. But a hundred years ago, whole days would be set aside for wash days, as clothes were boiled, pounded and mangled…not deposited in a drum with some liquid and put on an eco wash for a couple of hours. If I wanted to contact a friend in America, I could write a letter, or telegram in the 1950’s. I could call of course, but the cost of the call and the quality of the line would mean it would have to be particularly important to justify. Today I know exactly what my friends and family are doing on the other side of the world through Facebook and email, and I can message them and contact them instantly. When I got my first job back in 1997 (only 17 years ago!) I had a terminal…this machine had a green tube screen, internal email as an option and no internet. And 50% of my job involved paper forms and ink stamps. Today I am working from home, with a lightning fast internet and paperless.

All of this technology, all of these advances, and yet we are busier than ever. How can this be? Well the many reasons could probably fill this blog post several times over, and I don’t want to speculate. I know for me I enjoy doing, and so find it hard to say no to things which I enjoy…which has to balance with the jobs I have to do but don’t necessarily love, and also my wife and family (who of course I do love and want to spend all of my time with). I have been pretty fortunate over most of my career so far in that I have been able to set my working day to avoid rush hour. I’ve always started early and finished early so I was home in time for tea and bath and bed (for the kids, not me…), and it is something I have stuck to wherever possible even now as they are older. This may well have scuppered my chances for promotion and pay rises as I generally wouldn’t work late…but then I got everything done during my work hours…anything else would just be for visual effect and status…and I got to spend precious time with my family.

Stop the World

Stop the World is a just incredible song by Matthew West we have used a lot…the words and the sentiment just seem to reach people where they’re at, as so many of us can relate:

The T.V. is talking
The telephone’s ringing
The lights are all on and the radio’s screaming
A million distractions are stealing my heart from You

I’m tired and empty
This life is relentless
It weakens my knees and it breaks my defences
It’s wearing me down and I’m desperate to hear from You

Stop the world, I wanna get out
I need an escape away from this crowd
Just to hear You speak to me

I am still busy, I still have a crazy week this week on top of my usual work, and I know come Friday we will probably just end up dropping off on the sofa. But a while ago I made a concerted effort to work with this, so I consciously watch less TV, we plan out our weekends well in advance and block book “NOTHING” for some of them, I don’t ever take my phone to bed (and of course it’s rude to text at the table). And I have been struggling with (but mostly managing) to get up earlier in the morning so I can just have some quiet time with my bible, with my thoughts, and with prayer.

In a twenty four hour, always switched on, never disconnected world, it is difficult to hear anyone clearly above the noise, let alone the still small voice of God.

So why don’t you find your daily time to uncouple, listen, and just be. Stop the World.

Find Your Voice

Now I came across this video this morning on my Facebook feed:

Isn’t it great! 29 perfect celebrity impressions, performed perfectly in Rob’s front room…and a great song too. I’m definitely going to check out the album.

We have a culture where celebrity acts and bands are regularly impersonated…I’ve seen The Bootleg Beatles, Bjorn Again (Abba), The Doors Alive, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Noasis, Blobbie Williams and Take Fat…and they’re all great. And even if a band isn’t trying to sell themselves as a tribute band, most of the pub gigs and duos, wedding bands, Christmas Party bands and so on consists of covers…musicians playing other people’s songs. I did it myself for a while, I played in The Bogus Blues Brothers, Steeling Dan (a Steely Dan tribute band) and The Wiltons, whose primary material was 60’s classics by The Beach Boys, The Stones, The Beatles… (I shall gloss over my misspent youth playing Bon Jovi and Motley Crue covers…)

Now all this is well and good, and for many musicians it’s where we first were inspired to play, the way and why we learnt to play, as we emulated our heros. For me it was Mark King from Level 42 who inspired me to pick up the bass, and by the age of 15 I could play pretty passable performances of most of their repertoire, thumbs a-flying as I had my headless bass high around my neck and in the crook of my arm (it’s how I still play the bass today, although it admittedly looked decidedly odd in a metal band….) And for some musicians that is all they’ll ever do, play other peoples songs as a hobby, or even as a full time career. Now many of these bands have broken up or passed on, the only way of seeing them live is to attend a tribute concert, and it’s big business. The bands themselves spend a huge amount of time and money looking and especially sounding like their heroes. And it makes a lot of money too…the Australian Pink Floyd show has sold in excess of three million tickets in the time they’ve been impersonating.

How does this apply to worship?

For me as a worship leader at EBC, we do essentially the same thing, we play cover versions of other people’s songs. Whether it’s Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman, Brenton Brown or Rend Collective, our repertoire is primarily influenced by what is popular in other churches, and what fits with our congregations. And there is nothing wrong with this, we have to stay familiar with the songs which we use otherwise we will alienate our congregations. But I believe there is a line to be drawn somewhere, and we have to be careful we don’t take it so far that we try to emulate other musicians, the arrangements of songs, even the style and content of other churches. Just because it works in church x, doesn’t mean it will translate to your church. Just because Chris Tomlin sings it in G#, doesn’t mean anybody in your team or congregation will be able to. Just because Hillsong play Gretsch/Duesenberg guitars, it doesn’t mean you have to. And even if Joel Houston has a big beard and wears deep cut V necks and scarves, I will not sound like him if I do the same.

I sincerely love all of these leaders, and we use a lot of their songs in our repertoire at EBC because they are good songs, they resonate with me, and I know they are a good fit for our congregation. But I don’t go as far as trying to copy them. We change keys (often down a lot!) to make them singable by our congregation. We alter arrangements to fit our services, and our band lineups…we do have a strong and large team of musicians, but generally our band lineup is 5 -6 people, so we don’t have the luxury of multiple guitars, complex harmonies and keyboard loops. We have a double bass player who is great, but double bass sounds significantly different to an electric bass. All of our musicians are of differing ability, they are all competent and I am delighted to have them in the band. But to accommodate them, we make changes so the music is accessible to all.

Find your own voice

And then we work together and we develop our own voice. I don’t sound or look like Joel Houston, and even if I had all of Nigel Hendroff’s Gear, I could never play guitar like him. Our drummer never plays like Travis Nunn. I don’t have any singers who harmonise like Christy Nockels or Kari Jobe. But I do have a passionate and dedicated team of musicians, who know their own voice, and use it to glorify God in our worship. And that is all I ask of them.

So be yourself, find your voice, practice, play, learn and enjoy.

And be your own, individual perfect, as only you can be. As perfect videos and songs often are nothing of the sort….

Just Dive In!

I was sent this video last week on my daily distraction of choice, Facebook:

Cute, isn’t it?! You know whats going to happen, you can see it coming, and yet somehow the penguin manages to drag it out…from ledge to diving board, diving board to ledge and back again. Teetering on the edge so many times, toes hanging over the side, and just when you think he’s going to jump…he waddles off of the board back to the ledge, then back to the board, then back to the ledge…

Will they, won’t they?

Isn’t this so like life for a lot of us? When it comes to a decision, no matter how big or small, we so often teeter on the edge, pondering whether to take the plunge or not. It could be a new job, a new romance, a step of faith, or something as mundane as buying a sandwich. As we weigh up all of the pros and cons in our head; what if it doesn’t work out and I’m jobless in three months; will she, won’t he; I don’t know if I believe all of it; do I want cheese and pickle or ham and mustard. Without the mustard. On wholegrain….  Just like the penguin going to the edge, balancing, and then pulling back, thinking about it, truing it from a different angle, juggling the “what if’s” in his head then going back for a third, fourth attempt.

A Crash of Rhinos

Granted there are some of us who hurtle in full steam ahead like a crash of rhinoceros’ (clearly the most aptly chosen name for a group of rhinos), with blatant disregard for those around them or subsequent consequences. And while I admire the bravado (and have been guilty of doing the same on more than one occasion), again, it’s not a position I would advocate.

I’d always wanted to start a blog and my own business of sorts. And I did have a few false starts many years ago, writing a couple of posts and then letting it drift. But this year, on the week of my 40th birthday, I made the step, bought the domain and started writing, creating and sharing. Little steps at first. I put the design of the site together, and started collating some of the material I had been writing over the years. Then I started posting. And I tweaked and tinkered, worked out how things worked, learnt about SEO and Ranking and other technicalities I was aware of but had never paid much attention to. And I started to build up a body of work, and set myself the goal of posting 2 – 3 times a week. And I did, and I kept it up, and my blog started to grow.

But, I hadn’t told anyone about it. So I said “I’ll launch it when….”. When I have a lot of posts. When I’ve built the shop. When I’m happy with the look. When I’ve worked out this SEO/Coding/Ranking thing. And so on. I could just have easily said “When we have 10 consecutive days of sunshine” or “When I get my 5th celebrity endorsement” or “When someone asks me”. So my when would slowly become whenever…

Ship It, Launch It, Hustle, Permissions!

Seth Godin talks about Shipping It, Jeff Walker just released a great book called Launch, Jon Acuff is just finishing up the 30 days of Hustle: Summer School! And Michael Hyatt put up a great post about permission on Friday. All of which essentially say the same thing: What’s the good of creating something, having the idea for something, setting your sights on a goal if ultimately you do nothing about it. You get 70, 80, 90 percent of the way there and then never finish because you’re eternally tweaking, forever changing, just waiting for the next best thing. Just Do It! It may not be perfect. You possibly won’t ever be 100% happy with it. It will most probably never be finished. It will be messy, just as ultimately the penguin’s “dive” into the water was. But unless you actually make the decision to jump in, dive, head first, it will remain that way: a promising, not-quite-realised, potential which needs to be released.

So have dreams, ideas and visions. Of course, be thoughtful, measured and informed before you make decisions. But don’t wait too long. Don’t stand on the edge looking over and start to get cold feet. Read up, think about it, pray about it…and then just Dive Right In!

What’s holding you back now from realising your dreams, goals or aspirations? What will make you take the final step off the edge of the board?

Dreams part 2

Just last week I put up a post on dreams, centered on the Disney/Pixar movie Up and the main character, Carl, fulfilling the life long dream he’d had with his late wife. Yesterday I saw this advert for Under Armour, which has quickly gone viral internationally.

Misty Copeland is an American ballerina and a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre, one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the US. She is also the first African American soloist at the company. Her whole story is quite incredible, with custody battles, eating disorders and adversity because of her ethnicity. And Misty didn’t actually start ballet dancing until she was 13, when most beginners commence their training aged 5. Despite this she kept going, kept training, and eventually joined ABT in 2000, working her way up to soloist in 2007.

The advert has the narration of her rejection letters playing in the background…

Dear Candidate. Thank you for your application to our ballet academy. Unfortunately you have not been accepted.

‘You lack the right feet, Achilles tendons, turnout, torso length, and bust. You have the wrong body for ballet and, at 13, you are too old to be considered.’

According to the ballet academies she had applied to, just about everything about her was wrong to them…her body, her feet, her bust, her age….and so on. Some would have given up. Many wouldn’t even have attempted to apply. With all that was going on in the rest of her life, it would have been easy to understand why she would settle for an easier life, a straightforward career.

Misty had a dream, a passion she wanted to fulfill. And she worked and worked and worked at it, she focused, she didn’t give up on her dreams.

No matter what life threw at her, Misty knew what she wanted to do, and she worked at it relentlessly with a passion. The ad campaign is titled I Will What I Want. I’m inspired.

How hard are you willing to work at achieving your dreams?

Try

Self image. Confidence. Fitting in. Society seems to demand a lot of us these days, whether it’s to do with our jobs, our cars, our houses. And even more personally, we have to wear the right clothes in the right way, have our hair and makeup on before leave the house, and make sure that we’re not over or underweight. Isn’t that what the entire advertising and marketing industry is geared towards? We must have the latest phone/dress/music/movie or risk not “fitting in”. “What do you mean you haven’t seen/heard/eaten/worn….etc?!*” (*delete as applicable)

Now I am a 40 year old father of three, who does to a limited extent pay attention to how he looks. I don’t tend to feel the pressure to wear/read/listen to the “latest thing”. I have lost a fair amount of weight recently, but this was a conscious decision rather than a question of style…I don’t think I’ll ever suit skinny jeans. But I do have two daughters who are approaching their teenage years…who are already aware of their bodies and clothes, don’t want to stand out from the crowd, and like “shopping”. But I’m pleased to say that somehow we’ve instilled confidence in them that they can be who they want to be, without conforming to the rigours and style that their peer group follow. 

Try

This track by Colbie Caillat is simply called Try, and the accompanying video is a doozie…it’s already doing the rounds on social media, and I can understand why.

You don’t have to try so hard

You don’t have to give it all away

You just have to get up

You don’t have to change a single thing

Be Real

My girls are forever watching Glee, and listening to Pink!, Kelly Clarkson, and more recently musicals (Mrs K and I are both musicians with an appreciation of musical theatre…), so they don’t have dreadful role models. And something that their teachers have always said (that could be said of us) is that they are individuals. They’re no great leaders at school, but at the same time they’re not followers. They do their own thing, and they’re happy to do so. Which I am delighted about as their daddy.

Be comfortable in your own skin. Be real. Choose your friends wisely. Remember, it’s all about what’s happening on the inside that counts. And if anyone tells you otherwise…they’re probably not worth listening to.

Thanks to LosWhit for this one…who probably says it much more succinctly than I.