Adele: Lessons from the Other Side
Before we get going, I thought it only fair to circle back around to my last post and cut all that paralyzing suspense regarding my test last Tuesday. Drumroll, please…. I passed!!!!! EEP! This is good news for us both I can assure you as I’ll move on, quit my moaning, and focus on far more interesting things for us to talk about here. I didn’t realize how heavy a burden the whole process has been throughout the last 18 months. The stress of it bled over into other cracks of life, sucking away energy, ease, and time I’d forgotten I had. So, after taking a week off the blog for some much-needed self-care and rest, I feel massive relief and anticipation for more creative space to play around with other projects I’m ready to push forward.
Despite feeling the gravity of this seeming detour, I learned an invaluable lesson through it all: Perseverance develops emotional muscles that will serve us well in every area of life, even when the task at hand seems unrelated and dispassionate to our calling. This post isn’t about perseverance in that respect though, it’s about Adele…so let’s get to it.
I had the distinct pleasure of tagging along with my husband to the Grammy’s this past Sunday night in LA. Despite his infinite cool, he humors me as I show up each year with an arsenal of crazy shoes, dresses, and fake eye lashes like I’m nominated for an award or something. I’ve never taken home one of those awards, however, I always leave the week with loads of shiny inspiration, new ideas, and an awakened dreamer inside.
This year was no exception. In fact, I was so moved by the raw combination of Adele’s truth-telling and talent, I felt the need to write what I saw, in hopes of somehow branding it into my being. If you didn’t see her performance or acceptance speech(es), YouTube those babies. They’ll warm your heart. Oh, and, forgive the spoiler for which you are about to receive.
She’s always been an outlier in my mind: a seamless talent, a young-old-soul, and a powerful message well-balanced with a shock of mess. She’s swooped in twice now for most pop music consumers, both times offering us heavy hitting albums five years apart quite simply titled “21” and “25.” As that thick cockney accent cuts through the trough of tears shed, she cleans house, claiming most if not every Grammy she’s slated for. I’d say those are pretty good odds.
On the flight home late Tuesday night between the spotty Southwest wi-fi and my fistful of Valentine’schocolate, I couldn’t get her out of my head, so I jotted down a few lessons she’s taught me over the years, especially this past Sunday night.
1.) Be You
Seems obvious, right? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s LA, or the entertainment industry, or my own ego that I can feel expand in order to compensate in a room full of über talented people. Whatever it is, Adele seems to be immune to the insidious pressure to conform. I’m sure she’s got her demons just like the best of them, however, she knows who she is and what she does well, and she does it– like a Boss. With steady opinions from all sides to be this and that, to look a certain way, and perhaps to diversify, she’s unapologetically steady in who she is. It’s a breath of fresh air in an industry full of people hustling hard to show up in just the right light. She just “is” and it’s simply stunning—magnetic.
Do you ever feel like you’re hustling to live up to some unrealistic version of you? I do. Next time it happens, take a step back and remember this: you’re in a league of your own—no one else in the world will do when it comes to being you. Own it. When I listen to Adele sing, I don’t want to hear Katy Perry, I want Adele! (Though I do love me some KP). Good news: there’s more than enough room at the table for the unique gifts we each bring and a scarcity mindset is totally unnecessary.
2.) Don’t Be Afraid to Start Over
I remember playing a gig in the mecca of downtown Franklin a couple of years back. I hadn’t been practicing much and I didn’t really know one of the songs I was meant to play. Being the queen of wing it, I confidently, (read: blindly), walked right into a train wreck, having to start that song over halfway through. It was awful. I felt so much shame and embarrassment and desperately wantedto go hide under a rock for the next couple of months. Umm, there were probably 25 people there, tops. Really?
When Adele stopped her George Michael tribute on music’s biggest night in order to start the song over, I wanted to do back flips all the way up to the stage and hug her ever deserving neck. It’s the same shame, yet on vastly different platforms. She risked being rejected in order to do what she knew she needed to do. Courage does not exclude fear, it embraces it and keeps going. Heroes personify courage and we live in a culture desperately searching for heroes. I believe this is a big reason Adele stole our hearts in the first place.
We must not let pride keep us from slowing down, re-assessing, and starting over when we need to be it in a creative endeavor, an unhealthy relationship, or a work project we’ve been unsuccessfully pushing uphill. If Adele can mess up and start over for all the world to see, I’m pretty sure you and I can in our own way as well.
3.) Lead with your Heart
As if it were even possible to love her more than I already did, she then managed to pull out that unforgettable and disarming final acceptance speech for Album of the Year.
It was a tough call. She was up against Beyoncé’s fiercely creative “Lemonade”, and she literally didn’t want to accept it as she felt her competition had been robbed. We didn’t get a tidy, calculated, speech thanking all the big wigs in the room. Instead, we got an off-the-cuff love letter to her hero, complete with blubbering tears and that quintessential F-bomb we’ve become endearingly familiar with. She could’ve used those valuable minutes to further her cause, or better yet, get political. Instead, she led with her heart, honoring the influential genius of Beyoncé, who’s work and life highly impacted every facet of her experience, including the admittedly broken one of motherhood.
Constantly choosing to tap into love instead of fear helps us detach from ego and get out of our own way. Ego is always divisive. It puffs up, separating us from our true self because we’re afraid our true self isn’t enough. Vulnerably, Adele continues to model that, and a starving world devours every last crumb.
Vulnerability is a scary thing, after all, as we inevitably risk rejection and abandonment. What I’m seeing though, is it’s the only way to truly be known and loved. This week, let’s follow Adele’s lead and see what happens. You never know, we may give another caged soul the freedom to show up— messy, imperfect, and un-rehearsed. I want to be apart of that revolution.
love & gratitude,