Step up, Stand out, and Kick Some Ass because you’ve got the life experience to do it!
It was a typical Wednesday morning. I popped open my podcast app to find something for my run, and I discovered that Oprah had interviewed Tina Turner on her Super Soul Conversations show.
YESSSSS! I grew up as a young 20 something totally idolizing Tina. She was the first woman that I had ever seen fill a freeken stadium and unabashedly bring all of her strength, boldness and epic personality to change the game of rock n’ roll. I was beyond excited to hear what she’d been up to since she stopped touring 10 years ago.
To hear her story now as a mid life, mid career, mother of 3, not only do I realize how truly epic her life was, but I am also inspired to remind ALL of us that the responsibilities of “grown up” life are never an excuse to hold ourselves back.
Tina infamously escaped her abusive husband when she was 38. The decision to leave him left her with the responsibility of 4 children, no money, enormous debts and no ability to sing any of the music she’d made famous in the first 16 years of her career. At the age of 38, she literally had to start from scratch. She had nothing except the belief in herself that she was the real star of the show.
It took her 6 years of extraordinary effort to get back on her feet, toiling to get even the smallest gigs to stay in the business and pay her bills. Everywhere she turned she was shut down for being the wrong style, the wrong color, too old, too “Ike and Tina”. But, her incredible resilience from such a tough upbringing and the lessons from her early career helped her to never stop believing in herself. In the end, she went on to become one of the greatest rock icons of our time.
So with this in mind, here are my top 3 lessons that I am taking away from Tina’s story to apply to the next chapter of my life and career. I constantly hear from both women and men in this stage of life that it’s “so hard” to take the risks that we really want to take when you’ve got a house, kids, college to save for and retirement to think about. But life is short – you never know how much better off you can actually be if you don’t try!
1. STOP HANGING ON TO THE PAST – IT ONLY STANDS IN YOUR WAY
Conventional wisdom would tell us that we start our careers in our 20s, build up all of our foundational skills and become managers and leaders in our 30s. So by the time we are in our 40s, we should be cashing in on all that experience and staying the course with all that we’ve been building.
Yes – but… not necessarily! For sure when you have 25 – 30 years of experience you need to put it to good use. But, with the world moving as fast as it is today, if you stay in the same lane, you might suddenly get run over.
Tina was forced to leave her entire catalog of music behind. In many respects, that freed her to re-imagine herself for the new audience that she wanted to attract. From singing soul to lighting up the world of rock n’ roll. With her “newcomers” approach to the music world, she was able to create such a brilliant fresh new sound.
I had the same epiphany when I realized that it was my own falsely applied belief that my 25 year corporate career meant I needed to take another big corporate job. Why not take all that I know and apply it to starting my own company? Heck yeah!
2. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
Even for a global icon like Tina Turner, it’s not possible to unleash all of your brilliant potential if you don’t surround yourself with amazing people who complement your skills, your moods and your ideas.
Tina is very clear in her recent memoir that a wide range of people helped her break through in the second half of her career. She credits David Bowie for facilitating the critical moment for her to perform in front of the right people at the record label, and for using his influence to get them to sign her. She speaks with deep love about her manager who guided her to the right songs and producers to find her sound. And she repeatedly mentions her dear girlfriend who at times played a business role and at others just that of a caring confidante.
These days, we have enormous ability to reach out to friends, business contacts and mentors for guidance, introductions and endorsements. It’s not only OK – it’s NECESSARY to ask for help if you’re going to reach your potential. As my great friend Caroline Whaley from “Shine for Women” always says to me when I call asking for help with my business: “I believe in abundance” – the more we help each other, the better we will all be. Cheers to that!
3. YOU ARE NOT STUCK IN YOUR CURRENT SHITTY SITUATION
The most common question I get from mid life Extremers who reach out to me for guidance is, “how do I make a change when I have so many responsibilities?” I hear the stories of people in jobs they don’t like, working for bosses who drive them crazy, or feeling fearful that the world is speeding up around them and they’re not sure how to make a move. It’s fucking scary to walk away from a situation that pays the bills. But, it’s the perception of safety that we cling on to. And that false security allows us to put up with situations that don’t bring out our potential. Yet, how many times have we seen the story of painful downsizings in corporate America? Suddenly we wake up and see that our safe job wasn’t so safe after all.
Tina shows us from the moment she finally ran away from such a terrible situation that once you’re out – my god you will fight so hard to make sure that you never have to go back. You can’t even imagine the drive that exists within you until you make the scary leap and go. So next time you find yourself justifying the next year in a situation that makes you deeply unhappy, remember: you are NOT stuck there.
A big exciting world awaits if you’ll force yourself to open the door and take a look.
None of us can possibly imagine how scary it was to be Tina Turner when she finally made the move to escape from Ike. But, what we can say for sure is that we’d never have seen her unbelievable true star power if she’d not had the courage to leave.
So many of us allow others in our lives to edit down the best of who we can be. If we learn anything from Tina, it’s to back yourself and bring ALL that you have to your life and work. You might be blown away by what you’re truly capable of!
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