Recently I was watching an interview with Jazz great Ramsey Lewis. In the interview he shared how he never considered himself as a composer. He thought of himself as a jazz performer of others’ music. He stated that to him, Burt Bacharach and Duke Ellington, were composers not him. He then candidly shared that at one point he realized fear was a major factor in his mindset about this matter. He shared how this limited him and he felt more peaceful and more joyful about his music once he opened himself to accept that he could be a composer as well.
His newest album, Songs From The Heart, is all compositions written by Ramsey Lewis. The following You tube link has some samples of the music and thoughts from Ramsey Lewis about the album. Take a listen to the video and listen to the music and what he says-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s82tbVWpNqI In the video you can hear his feelings about his being considered a composer. He shares as this new album came up he immediately started thinking of other peoples’ songs he could put on it. It took someone else to remind him he had his own songs for people to enjoy.
Reflecting on the interview reminded me of how fear can limit our progress in our life journey and the dreams we are attempting. Fear can smother and weaken us so we give up on what we want in life. The fear may be of what others may think. Fear of failure in making fools out of ourselves. Fear of imagined negative consequences often chain us into being stagnant and not growing.
With anything new in our lives there will be fear. So with each new dream, each new learning experience; we will be faced with fear. The important thing is what to do with the fear. John Maxwell in his book The Success Journey quotes Dr. Susan Jeffries, “As long as I continue to push out into the world, as long as I continue to stretch my capabilities, as long as I continue to take risks in making my dreams come true, I am going to experience fear.” Fear is a reality and we can’t hide from it. It is part of the risk process in trying new things in life. We need to keep pushing out into the world on our journey each day. Fear keeps us hiding from our journey.
Another fear quote in the same book is one I have shared often with students, “The hero and the coward both feel exactly the same fear, only the hero converts it into fire.” (Cus D’Amato). It is how we react to the fear that is important. It is about our attitude. Do we give up, or reevaluate and continue in a forward motion. There is nothing wrong about feeling fear. The wrongness is in letting fear control us and conquer us.
Going back to Ramsey Lewis, he conquered the fear by beyond open to his skills as a composer. He now has an album of his own compositions to share with the world. New songs that would not be here if he had caved into fear. What is being withheld from the world in bringing more beauty and joy into the world by our letting fear smother our dreams?
Reflection: Take some quiet time to reflect on dreams and new learning experiences you have been desiring. Is fear holding you back? Brainstorm some ideas on how you can get back on track on things you have put off in your life but really wanted to do.