Prince’s music didn’t speak to me. Nor did his fashion. But, and to say nothing of his musical ingenuity, he was an original.
That takes courage–especially when one’s originality is in the spotlight.
In an interview, Jerry Seinfeld was once asked about modern comics. He could have responded by listing the ones that he likes; he could have mentioned the ones whose styles he doesn’t like or who bug him or who perform in ways he might deem artistically flawed. But he didn’t.
Instead he said something like, “I just respect anyone who can get up on that stage. It’s a hard thing to do.”
Having had a modest amount of stage time myself, I agree with Seinfeld and appreciate the perspective. He chooses to see what’s admirable.
Now imagine and admire this: being 20 years old, getting up on stage wearing envelope-pushing outfits, singing lyrics sure to offend with music styles no one had heard before.
Prince wasn’t just being an individual. He was being an individual sure to be judged. But he owned it, and he handled the authority to be a trendsetter. He saw himself as a leader and symbol. His concern about what others critically thought, or how they doubted him, or his disbelief in himself did not add up to deter his mission of getting that record deal, organizing his band, writing that song, and starting his own businesses.
How many times have we had ideas only to prevent their actualization because we think something like, “No, that’s dumb.”?
There will only be one Prince. But we all can be an individual proud of who we are, expressing ourselves in whichever fashion and whichever outlet one is able–a leader in some capacity. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it’s about believing in yourself, about moving ahead with your ideas and initiatives and passions, undeterred by interference of fear.
This message was adapted from my weekly email to readers. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be added to this list.