Prince, arguably one of the most talented musical geniuses of all time, died suddenly today. Another legend lost this year and another artist who was part of so many memorable moments of my life.
When Purple Rain was released, I was an impressionable 12 year old–I remember going to my first big dance and when “Let’s Go Crazy” started playing, a senior named Joe took the dance floor and literally went crazy while all of us laughed and cheered, I remember being shocked when my friend Brooke and her mother were singing the lyrics of “Darling Nikki” in the car (even the masturbation part!), I remember sneaking into my first ‘naughty’ movie, “Purple Rain,” with my precocious friends, and I remember “When Doves Cry” being my favorite song that I listened to for hours and hours and hours.
Funny story, I thought Prince introduced me to a new vocabulary word, “strikerious” which I surmised to mean ‘striking and mysterious.’ As in, ‘and the most strikerious poses’ in the song, “When Doves Cry.” I kept trying to look the word up in the dictionary, and no joke, did not know until YEARS later, that it was, “animals strike curious poses.” Strikerious still remains in my lexicon and, frankly, should be a word. I also got the lyrics wrong in another iconic song, “Little Red Corvette” which was always known to me as “Lady in a Red Corvette,” again for YEARS. Embarrassing but true.
Here’s another memory that makes me smile–I watched Prince perform at Superbowl XLI with my three-month old daughter sitting on my lap. Introducing my daughter to her first Superbowl and her first halftime show, watching Prince perform “Purple Rain” in the pouring rain– how can you beat that?! I know I have video of this somewhere…
Prince was a quirky guy, a one of a kind, a perfectionist, a creative force to be reckoned with and a guy who liked to win–just take it from Dave Chappelle, who parodied him in his segment, “True Hollywood Stories,” in which comedian, Charlie Murphy, hilariously recounts how he and his brother, comedian, Eddie Murphy, witnessed Prince’s basketball prowess.
I was lucky, I got to see Prince in concert during his Musicology tour. You couldn’t help but just marvel at the immensity of his talent and leave feeling grateful for the opportunity to witness genius. I only wish I hadn’t taken it for granted when I passed up seeing him this year, thinking I would have ample opportunities to see him perform again.
Unfortunately for all of us, we won’t. But we were so fortunate to have his music, his talent, his genius as part of our lifetime, etched in our memories, and forever imprinted on our souls.
Prince–the most ‘strikerious’ singer, musician, poet, artist ever.
One of his memorable performances with Beyonce at the 2004 Grammy’s.
When asked if he was nervous about getting back out on tour for his new show, “Picking up the Pieces” after a long rehabilitation following a car accident that left him seriously injured, Tracy Morgan responded:
“No I never use that word nervous, I’m excited. Words take on meaning.
People who are nervous can’t wait for it to be over, I can’t wait for it to start!”
“I am he who quotes, I am the sponge that absorbs, I am the shepherd of my own self. I am also very careful regarding the use of the word “innovative”. This word, particularly when one uses it to describe one’s own work, indicates a certain amount of arrogance. I would rather aspire to be someone who always tries out new things—both alone and together with other people. Ultimately I try to do the things that fascinate me.”
“Let’s Dance, Put on your Red Shoes and Dance the Blues.”
David Bowie no longer resides with us on Earth but he still ‘Is’. Through his music and his art, one of the most iconic and creative forces exists, lives, and endures in the hearts, minds and senses of millions.
Thankfully, his recent exhibition, ‘David Bowie is’, at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Melbourne allowed us to celebrate his work and his life. The exhibition, an immersive and sensory experience, showcased his work over the past five decades with heavy emphasis on his early influences and his work and collaborations in the 1970s.
Once described as a “self-constructed freak,” David Bowie’s creative practices and progression as a singer, songwriter, artist, author, and actor were not contrived nor freakish, rather they were purely expressions of his authentic self. The notion of freedom of expression is often construed as an act of defiance or rebellion, but only if it challenges the social mores of the time.
What made David Bowie so intriguing was that his avant-garde authenticity transcended time, and continued to be modern, current, and relevant. David Bowie was an artist, David Bowie was a creative and prolific innovator, David Bowie was provocatively and boldly authentic, and he always will be.
“Pressure – changes everything, pressure. Some people, you squeeze them, they focus. Others fold.”
In film ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ (1997)
Australia is about to be invaded by the world’s top tennis players vying for top spot in tournaments around the country and culminating in the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open in Melbourne this January. Sport is the ultimate in reality television, unscripted, often unpredictable, and particularly in an individual sport like tennis, driven by the personality of the athlete. Every year, tennis fans gather to witness who will triumph and who will crumble under the pressure, or ‘choke’ as they refer to it in sport.
Although most of us will not experience this kind of pressure on such a public stage, choking doesn’t just occur in sport. The public pressure on athletes to succeed is not unlike the corporate environment where the expectation is to excel and handle pressure with ease. Let’s face it, even having to parallel park can be a high pressure situation for some of us!
So what leads to choking? It comes down to what you think of yourself (“I can’t do this!”, “I suck!”), what you think about the situation (“I have to succeed or else!”, “It has to be perfect!”) and how you perceive others’ expectations of you (“Everybody is counting on me!”, “Everyone is laughing at me!”).
Even if you have the talent, knowledge and ability to deal with high demands of work, life, or sport, sometimes the pressure can still get to you – and at the worst possible moment. Jessica Mauboy’s recent no-show for her performance at the Melbourne Cup is a perfect example of this. It can happen to anyone.
How do you minimise your ‘choking’ hazards?
Learn how to focus and not fold under pressure by using these 10 strategies:
Pay attention to your thoughts. In high pressure situations, are you motivating yourself or putting yourself down? If you tend towards the latter, work on changing these thought patterns by practicing different ways of thinking and consciously using them in different pressure situations until it becomes habit.
Practice makes perfect. Become accustomed to high-pressure situations. Expose yourself to a variety of pressure situations at home, work, or in sport. Avoidance breeds fear, so face pressure head-on.
Take a moment. Notice how athletes like tennis players and golfers take a few breaths before serving or driving the ball. Relaxation and breathing techniques can ease the tension in your body before, during and after exposure to high-pressure situations.
Prevention is key. If you have a balanced lifestyle that includes social support, a healthy diet, physical activity, and time to relax, you are likely to have the mental, emotional, and physical strength and energy to cope with stressful situations.
Stay in the present. Don’t think too much about the outcome. Stay focussed on the task so you can respond effectively to whatever happens in the moment.
Develop a ritual for facing pressure situations. Remember to keep it simple and practical—a few breaths, reading an inspirational quote, listening to a particular song, a short mindfulness exercise.
Watch and learn. How do people around you deal with pressure, expectations, public scrutiny or professional pitfalls? You can learn a great deal from others’ successes and mistakes.
Reflect on your previous experiences. What were the conditions, both internally (in your own mind and body) and externally (in the environment) when you were successful and when you were not. What would you do differently to improve the outcome next time?
Imagine coping with the situation. Sit or lie down with your eyes closed and go through the whole scenario in detail with you successfully completing the task. Visualising success by going through the motions in your mind is a powerful tool and is effectively used to prepare elite athletes for their match-ups.
Lessen the significance of the event. Put the importance of the situation in perspective. This may not be possible on rare occasions, but generally, there will be future opportunities, events and moments to prove yourself.