Last night I had a massive peak experience – going on a date night with my husband to see the incomparable John Legend in concert at the Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta.
And, throughout the concert, as I looked at other fellow concert-goers, it was obvious that others were sharing the peak experience with me. For example, the guy sitting beside me kept shaking his head in admiration at Legend’s proficiency on the piano, random people yelped screams of glee in response to his mellifluous vocal gymnastics, while others simply sat back with expressions of serene contentment as they were washed in the stripped down versions of his songs.
In sum, we were all in awe, utterly captivated by what we were witnessing.
Now, it would be fair to say that a number of factors could have been seducing the audience. First of all, it was a perfect night – Chastain Park is a beautiful open-air venue in which audience members bring picnic baskets of food, with wine and candles to set a delightful ambiance. Furthermore instead of being the stifling hot and humid Atlanta norm for July, the temperature was pleasantly in the sixties with a slight breeze.
Second, most of the audience was composed of couples. It was a captive audience of people who came wanting to be taken on a journey of romance, courtesy of his blockbuster hit, All of Me.
Third, John Legend certainly has some seductive qualities. After all, the dude is certainly easy on the eyes. He was impeccably dressed in a clean-cut shirt and tie combo. His intelligence and playfulness came through in his comfortable banter with the audience.
However, I would argue that was the most spell-binding for all of us was that we all knew that this guy was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing. Seeing him living out his purpose was sexy.
His strengths, talents, and passions were all aligned in his chosen career path. It was clear that he had fully committed himself to his art and had spent years honing his craft (after taking a brief foray into management consulting, he toiled away as a relative unknown for years before getting his record deal). As a result, he was the embodiment of excellence in his performance last night.
And, because John Legend has followed his calling in his work, he loves what he does. It was obvious that he adores the creative process and pushing himself as an artist. For example, the concert itself was different from his previous ones (I have been to about five or six) in that he chose to play mostly unplugged version of his songs, with a string quartet accompanying him throughout. That was a huge risk, considering that a lot of his fans are relatively new and they might have been looking forward to the arrangements with which they were familiar. At the end, however, I think this gamble garnered him respect, as people appreciated him for trying something new (and of course, it was incredible).
His love for his art also showed in his performance. At moments he looked to be in a state of pure enjoyment at the sounds he was able to create with his voice. He knew he was slaying the audience. He was immersed in the moment, in a state of passion for what he was doing. Witnessing him in a flow state was truly infectious – seeing him perform at a high level was not only awe-inspiring, but inspirational.
So, what is the moral of the story for those of us who may not have John’s exceptional voice, dexterous fingers, and ears that enable us to write complex and sophisticated chord progressions?
Find that sweet spot in which your talents and sense of purpose intersect. Ask yourself what you feel called to do and pursue it with gusto, inspiration, intuition, hard work, and love.
Be your absolute best. And, while you may not ever perform your craft in front of an amphitheater of people (and not all of us are called to do that), it will make all the difference in your own life, and the lives of those you touch.
As John himself said, “Soul is about authenticity. Soul is about finding the things in your life that are real and pure.” Discover the things that are real and pure for you. Living out your purpose is sexy.
(Okay people – I promise this is my last John Legend post for quite a while. I was just so moved by the concert, however, that I had to write this!!!)
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