Quintessential Resilience

For most of us getting up in front of an audience is high up on the list of things that we fear most.

lazaroWe stress way in advance of our presentations while we invent a multitude of potential things that could go wrong in our minds.  We admire those who step in front of an audience with confidence, comfortable in their own skins, and   we long to be like them.  That’s why Lazaro Arbos, a young man who recently auditioned on American Idol, inspired me.

The difference between Lazaro and the other candidates was that he had a severe stutter.

This boy must have felt far more pressure than the normal jitters that go with hand-in-hand with as an idol contestant.   Lazaro, along with many people who stutter, had difficulty saying his own name. He struggled through the routine introduction and used his hands to gesture, in a desperate attempt to get his words out.

As significant as Lazaro’s challenge was, he persevered through his stammer, introduced himself and his song, and answered the judge’s questions.

When it came time to sing he blew us all away.

Out came the voice of an angel, confident and true, his song fluent and his voice magnificent.  Yes, it is true that people who stutter do not tend to stutter when they sing. Singing originates in a different part of the brain than speaking. While speaking stems from the left brain, singing is a right brain activity. People who stutter are also fluent when talking in a novel speech pattern, such as with a different accent or voice, or when speaking to their pets, to babies, and to their plants.

Nonetheless, Lazaro’s stunning vocal performance was not the only part that moved me. Singing for Lazaro seemed effortless.  The most inspiring part of Lazaro’s audition on American Idol, for me, was the fact that this young man, who stuttered so severely, spoke, before millions of people, TV cameras, and four high powered celebrity judges.  We all heard his message; we all heard his voice.

The fact that he had the courage to persevere through his stutter, under these circumstances, was powerful and the quintessential example of resilience.  Resilience is  the ability to persevere, despite difficult life circumstances, to steer through the day-to-day trials and tribulations, and the capacity to reach out of one’s comfort zone and to take risks.

Surprisingly, there does not seem to be a relationship between the severity of someone’s stutter and the degree to which they will avoid speaking.

The question I ask is, what makes someone push through a distracting speech pattern to pursue his dream; while others whose stutter may be far milder avoid careers where communication is involved?  Moreover, what makes some of us push forward and step out of our comfort zones although we may not have extreme talent?

It seems to me that many of us spend a great deal of our time worrying what other people will think. We are so fearful of “making fools of ourselves” that we never get to actually BE ourselves. A great deal of this thinking seems to be subconscious. We have that background voice telling us to stay small, not to be seen, to be inconspicuous – – to remain invisible. This boy had a  voice despite his stutter.

Where is your voice? Is it hidden away deep down inside? Is it only a whisper? Where are you? Are you stepping out? Are you reaching out of your comfort zone? What is one small thing you are willing to do to start?

If Lazaro can do it – you can do it.

What do you really really really want to do with your life? What do you really wish you were doing right now?

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