Follow Your Bliss – Amanda McAllister

This month we asked our bloggers to respond to the following question:

When have you used your ingenuity, creativity, and willpower to create an opportunity that is in line with your values? What role did your mindset/the mental game play in accomplishing this? What advice can you give to musicians to forge ahead and open doors for themselves?

I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t aspire to greatness. Think about it, do you know anyone who wakes up in the morning and tries to figure out how to be terrible at life? I certainly have never met anyone like that. I have met a lot of people who wake up every day trying to be great at life and get frustrated because things don’t seem to be going their way. So it seems to me that the fundamental problem most of us face is how to navigate the ups and downs, the acceptance and rejection of everyday life. How do we combat this idea that we are helpless in our lives, and how can we make a door where there wasn’t one before? Joseph Campbell says “You follow your bliss and doors will open where doors did not exist or do not open for others.”

So how do you follow your bliss? I believe the first step in this process is to recognize your intuition. Webster’s defines intuition as “the power or faculty of gaining direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.” To me, intuition is that voice deep within my spirit that guides me to greatness. What are my hopes and dreams? Ask yourself, “What do I REALLY want?” I guarantee that your intuition will tell you EXACTLY what you want. But it’s not enough to recognize that you have a deep seeded desire, you have to verbalize this desire. The very first lesson in Bootcamp was to write down my dreams and write a vision for my life. This was an exercise in recognizing and verbalizing my intuition.

So what then? I know as well as the next person that writing my hopes and dreams down on a piece of paper doesn’t make them materialize in my life. One must take ACTION. This is the part of the process I find the hardest. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat at the computer pining over whether or not to submit for an audition. I sit there as my inner critic lists all the reasons why I don’t deserve this opportunity, “I’m not ready, the last time I sang that piece I messed up the ending, my French diction is terrible, everyone else is going to be so much better than me…” My dear friend John Dapolito is always saying “You are not your inner monologue. Take the actions you wish. Say ‘yes’ to every moment. Why compromise your existence on a feeling in a moment?” Action is created by saying ‘yes’.

So now I’ve said ‘yes.’ Now the panic really sets in. Now I have to show up to that audition and face my fear of rejection. Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”? Did you know that Albert Einstein was expelled from school because he was too slow? Thomas Edison was told by his teachers that he was “too stupid to learn anything”. Luciano Pavarotti didn’t read music. Steven Spielberg was rejected from USC’s School of Theater, Film and Television three times. Imagine if these people had let rejection determine their course in life. I have a feeling these people kept showing up and saying ‘yes’ because they were following their bliss.

– Amanda McAllister

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