I took voice lessons when I was in high school, and I'll never forget one of the principles my coach shared with me. She said, "learning to sing is unlearning the bad habits we've formed since we were young." Breathing, posture, technique, annunciation...these are all things we do a great job of messing up left to our own.
Our biweekly lessons provided the instruction and the accountability to not only unlearn the bad habits, but learn new ones--the kind that let me sing more like the person I envisioned myself as.
My coach was also deeply encouraging, and I was grateful she always saw me for the singer I was becoming, not the sixteen-year old who thought Dashboard Confessional was a good place to start for vocal range.
I think a lot of my growth over the years has been because of people like her and their expectations. I would include the way my parents raised me in the same category, as well. I didn't realize it until recently, but this concept is referred to as the Pygmalion Effect, where higher expectations leads to better performance.
My parents always spoke to me like I was capable of anything, and I can remember specific conversations of the affirmations they sprinkled into my life. I had a reputation to live up to, in my mind, therefore I tried really hard at most of my endeavors.
I've learned that affirmations are a powerful thing. Our brain is always learning, so what we put into it (consciously and subconsciously) greatly influences who we're becoming. At Tom James Company, we have these little affirmation cards to remind us of the person we are becoming and the principles we stand for. One I read this morning was right up the alley of this idea of habits:
"Today I will form good habits and become their slave. Today I will persist. I will win."
I want to be the vocal coach that helps others unlearn their bad habits, become a slave to new good ones, and walk alongside those who are growing. I want to be a parent who sees who their child is becoming, not the awkward teenager fumbling through high school. I want to believe in people and affirm their strengths, because there is something special in knowing someone believes in you.