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Recently, Pharrell Williams was interviewed on one of my favorite TV shows, CBS Sunday Morning. You know who Pharrell is, right? The "Happy Man," as he has been called; singer/songwriter of a snappy melody and some of the best-known lyrics worldwide: "Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.... Cuz I'm happy...."
The interviewer was asking Pharrell to talk about his gifts, talent, and skills as a musician and he wouldn't do it. Steadfastly, he attributed his success to opportunities and blessings in his life, such as great music teachers in high school. After Pharrell named all these teachers, the interviewer said, "It sounds like you're attributing your success to them." "Well," Williams replied, "who am I without them? Really...think about it...."
Pharrell's adamant refusal to brag about himself or his gifts, his unremitting gratitude for everyone who has supported him and for opportunities life has brought him, seemed to frustrate or confuse this interviewer. Brow furrowed, he said, "Well, surely you've spent some time thinking about what you're good at, the things at which you excel," Pharrell replied, "I think that's when you start to fail."
BRILLIANT! Williams' words rang in my head, and echoed in my heart and soul. It's true. When I focus on what I'm good at, particularly what I can do that is better than what others can, and what that can "get" me, I fail every time. What works is when I focus on "the song"--whatever creative process describes my current collaboration with the Universe.
When life works it's because, instead of pushing others to be aware of my gifts, talents, skills, or ideas, I simply open my mind and heart in gratitude for the gorgeous synergy. I give thanks for the intersections, parallels, and bridges created by being in the flow, focused on increasing good for all. When I contribute whatever I have to give, releasing it for that greater good, detached from any specific impact, that's when the song of the moment soars.
Whether that "song" is a project at work, a small group process in a workshop, vacuuming the living room carpet, or walking the dog, my success is always greatest when I don't push the river. This living in the flow results from a full treasure chest, with all 7 Childhood Treasures shining together. I'm not certain I have that full treasure chest, yet, but I have had moments now and then when all the Treasures gleamed together, showing their faces in the seams of the deep mine in which I am working to excavate them all. And these moments, occurring only now and then, fill my life with light.
Mostly, though, this sense of being in the flow feels like a new facet of that 7-year-old's Childhood Treasure of Acceptance. It's about the letting go of my illusion of control. It's about knowing that what is, IS. When I let go of judging what IS as good or bad, and just let it be, then I dance with reality. Without worry or striving, I simply flow as a current in the larger river of life, knowing that all is well. Every action I take is the perfect act for that moment; every word I say fosters progress, connection, and good outcome. When I'm pushing for my way or my visibility or my "goodies," I trip over reality and step on her toes, losing that smooth quick-step we were doing.
Can you release the illusion of control? Can you let go of judgment? Can you stop thinking and strategizing about what you're good at, stop trying to prove the things at which you excel, and simply BE? For some of you, this state may be easy and commonplace. For many of us, it is rare and precious.