Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How to Work Beautifully

I mentioned in my last post that I have been studying voice lately to stretch myself. My amazing voice teacher, Kathryn Little, said something in a lesson a couple of weeks ago that rang all kinds of bells for me (she's full of wisdom). It's a principle that I believe has everything to do with finding meaning in our work.

Kathryn has been trying to convince me that my voice has natural beauty. I've found that tough to swallow. But a couple of weeks ago, in the middle of some soft legato exercises, she stopped me and said the following (reproduced verbatim from my recording of the session):

"OK, here's something to think about, because I know that this whole idea of your voice being beautiful is foreign to you and kind of embarrasses you a little bit... Um, instead of thinking about your voice, think about what your voice is doing to someone. If you could hug someone with your voice, if you could envelop someone with warmth and love, instead of 'oh, it's about my voice.' To give. To give to somebody else. Does that make sense?" 

It did. And when I started thinking about singing to express love for someone, the energy changed, the focus changed, and things flowed much more naturally. Maybe even a little bit - dare I say it? - beautifully.

There is a powerful principle here! I've discovered it with my teaching as well. When I walk into the classroom thinking "how can I get my students to like me today?," I'm never at my best. Instead, I've found that the recipe for success is to walk into the classroom thinking "how can I love my students today? What can I give?" I'm so much more effective on those days. And I'm a lot happier too. 

It's ironic. Finding meaning at work means forgetting about seeking it for yourself. Meaning comes as a by-product of serving others. And of course, that principle is true in every aspect of life, not just work. 


  1. Isn't it fascinating how the principles of truth that guide us in becoming Christlike will guide us in every aspect of our lives equally? We talk about a corollary to this in our SS lessons regularly: faith is loving God, hope is receiving the love of God, and charity is loving like God. Love is the carrier for everything good and it sanctifies everything it touches. Not politically correct, but then, when has anything right ever been? Blessings to you in the development of your beautiful voice!

  2. Terrific post. I have recently found much higher satisfaction at work not because the workload has changed, but because my focus and motives have changed. When I think about the people I am striving to change for the better through our leadership programming, the drudgery of some of the tasks can indeed transform to beauty! Thanks for articulating this "lose your life and save it" principle as it pertains to the workplace. And keep up those voice lessons! I look forward to another duet doqn the road.