One day my wife showed me a YouTube video that inspired the heck out of me.
James Arthur, a young unemployed guy from Middlesbrough,
took part in the X-Factor competition and he sang his soul out. This performance blew me away. I really recommend you watch it. The actual performance is between 3:34 and 5:55.
I could rant for hours about how shallow and empty the music industry is nowadays, but I won’t. James Arthur reminded me what the art really stands for.
There are a lot of lessons in James Arthur’s story: about cultivating talent, perseverance, success and personal progress, among others. I know this just from watching that video (which includes hints about him) and skimming the news on the Internet.
Those are important lessons, but I wasn’t inspired by them.
My soul was touched by his authenticity and transparency.
He wasn’t afraid to sing about his life, which allowed him to sing with unrelenting passion. I bet it made everybody in the audience think about their lives as it made me to think about mine. They connected to him on a personal level, on the innermost level, where we very rarely meet with each other.
Those moments of intimacy are always precious. Recall your own such memories – with your spouse, your children, other family members or with friends. They happen when two people abandon their internal fortresses and come out to meet another person without lies, masks or pretense. Such moments give births and fuel for love. They create the bonds for life.
That’s what the art is for. That caused the audience to give him the standing ovation.
I want to be like James Arthur
After watching this video, the very same evening I wrote a poem about how I would like to be so transparent in my writing, about showing my true pain and the story of my life, and use them to inspire others.
The next morning I composed a prayer which I say every time I write any piece of content (that is, if I remember to 😉 ).
In a nutshell I ask God to give me the strength and ability to show my real self to my readers, and I hope they connect with me on a personal level and feel what I felt when I watched James for the first time.
Authenticity and transparency establish the first important layer of what I want to communicate through my writing.
The second layer is what it takes to be transparent: The courage to be myself, to be vulnerable, and to share my story. I’m not perfect, and neither is James’ story. His song is not about an artificial and easy life; it’s about his life. It’s real. It’s humane.
I need this touch of humanity in every book I read. For example, I hate “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” because it is a fiction story presented as the truth. I have nothing against teaching and moralizing via fiction, but I have everything against pretending that it’s true. That’s the worst type of falsehood. It is hypocrisy, and I don’t want to commit it.
It takes courage and discipline to maintain one’s integrity. Sometimes I have to confess my vices and failures, especially when I want to warn you against committing the same mistakes I made.
The third layer is to have something worthy to say. It’s cool to be authentic and have courage; however there is nothing to be proud of if you are an asshole.
James Arthur didn’t just come up on a stage one shiny day and become a rock star. He practiced his craft, he trained long hours. He had been working hard for many years, through an endless succession of bands and gigs.
And most importantly, he matured. He has grown enough to weave the threads of his life into his art, to recognize the patterns in others’ songs that are relevant to his story. It’s what he has done with Tulisa’s “Young,” and later on with every single song in the X-Factor, including his famous “Impossible.”
I need to be someone worth listening to. If I just sat on my hands for the last 16 months I wouldn’t have stories to tell you, because that’s what my books are really about – my personal stories. They tell about an ordinary guy’s mission to find purpose, to lose weight, to hone his reading or time management skills, to support his kid in learning, and so on.
Those stories make you believe that you can do it too. They steal the mystical envelope from the subject of personal transformation.
That’s why I strive to be the best version of myself. It takes a ton of discipline and mundane hard work. Sometimes it is simply boring. The whole process of expanding beyond myself would suck if I was just doing this for myself.
But I want to be like James Arthur. I want to touch your heart.
A word to you
I don’t want to get a standing ovation for the sake of a standing ovation. Surely it’s nice to observe how my latest book has sold several hundred copies a month, but I want to see people moved by my work. I want them to take action and get results.
So my reader, if I ever string a chord in your soul, don’t hesitate to share it with me. That’s my real reward. You know, I’m not a saint. I don’t write like crazy just to touch your heart. I wish my heart to be moved by yours too. Give me feedback: Email me, Tweet me, comment on my blog or give me a review.
Using James’ words: “Thank you. It means the world to me”.
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