Day 24: What I Learned from the “Trombone Dancer”
We are all storybooks. Unfortunately, we don’t usually stop to figuratively pick up a book and read it if the cover is unfamiliar.
As a career coach, I’ve always enjoyed learning about a person’s background and aspirations. My innate curiosity seems to consistently overpower my fear of striking up conversations with strangers.
My flight from Miami to New York was no exception.
I was sitting in the aisle seat in a two seater. Yes, I was secretly hoping that my neighbor would never show up. We all do this? Right? Yet, this luxurious event never happened. Instead, what I got to do was meet with and learn from a famous “Trombone Dancer” aka TD.
He came to my row with a marching band hat not your typical plane passenger and he offered me a cough drop so I asked his name and we spoke on the plane.
Turns out that my plane neighbor was the “Trombone Dancer” on America Got Talent 2008 Session 3. He’s played with Eartha Kitt, Alicia Keyes and several others.
Could you imagine if I had opted to stick my nose in a real book rather than to have opened my mouth to say hi? What a missed opportunity that would have been to have never gotten to know my plane neighbor.
Moreover, how about inviting him to my podcast, huh? What an opportunity my curiosity helped me unveil.
So here we go some lessons that I picked up in the sky while sitting next to a guy:
White privilege is not always a privilege.
TD is a rhythmic white guy who was raised in a middle class community. On paper, he is privileged. His dad has a Phd and worked on the Apollo space shuttle.
Yet, the Trombone Dancer has a different take on privilege. Sometimes, he hasn’t felt privileged as a dancer and musician.
Yes, he can dance. Susan Osbourne, David Hasselhoff, and Piers Morgan agreed he has talent. TD learned to dance from an African American martial arts instructor. As a result, TD learned to dance with the signature soul and intensity of his mentor.
However, this signature style has not always been taken seriously because of who he is. TD is a white straight male. He’s been treated as a funny side act thus leaving him feeling limited by what is expected of a white guy rather than privileged. TD is writing a book about his ideas.
Angst is a commodity.
TD pointed out how dancing with intensity is fueled by his rage. Rage is such a powerful emotion and it helps him dance with greater conviction. It’s always interesting for me to hear what goes on in the mind of a creative person. All of these explosive emotions are behind so many artistic creations. It’s inspiring.
Scary too but it brings to mind why Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson were so captivating. They brought a “screw you” attitude to their music. Apparently, rage in the form of angst sells records. Basically, it helped me understand one reason why Jagged Little Pill was a hit. It was interesting to see Alanis’ angst.
Self-awareness is king.
Self-awareness is sought after in great leaders. My clients tend to be very self-aware and it’s rubbing off on me. I’m grateful to them for that. I shared with TD my own tale of self-awareness. I talked to him about the idea of “low wealth self-esteem.” The idea of high or low wealth esteem is really about how you perceive yourself verses the Jones. I shared with him how there have been times when I had “low wealth esteem” and how I chose those moments to meditate on the notion of compassion.
This thought passes my mind every so often because I live in a ritzy town where you can’t help but make comparisons. It feels kinda good to put a name to this feeling and to know that I can manage it by practicing compassion instead of comparison.
All in all this chance encounter reaffirmed in me that my life is good. And best when I get to get a sneak peak into someone else’s life.
My podcast guest list has expanded. Final point, this mom is telling you to: Talk to strangers! You could be missing out on some incredible stories about others along with some big revelations about yourself.
Did you know there are at least 250 applicants for every job opening? I want to help you win faster. Sign-up and for free I’ll send you via email my eBook, “Job Search Smarter.” Yes, please take advantage of my 50 BEST ideas meant to help you stand out. Side note: TD stood out and it got him noticed on America’s Got Talent?