“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” This is a compelling quote by Martha Graham, an American modern dancer and choreographer whose influence on dance has been compared with the influence Picasso had on the modern visual arts, Stravinsky had on music, or Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture. I truly appreciate the sentiment in this quote but my most immediate thought when reading her biography was, well of course if I had the talents and gifts that she had and didn’t put it out into the world, that would be real shame. But I don’t, or do I?
The way in which we attach value to a skill, achievement, or behavior is a function of our experiences, our culture, our unique nature. For most of us, our default position is to assess others as having greater talent, more exceptional abilities and more interesting ways of engaging with the world than we do. Perhaps this is a result of some master assessments many of us carry around with us that prevent us from acknowledging the gifts we bring to others. Brene Brown would describe these as “I am not enough” and “Who do you think you are?”
What might happen if we looked at bringing ourselves out into the open as a responsibility instead? If we agree with Martha Graham’s perspective, that if we don’t do this, no one else will ever have the possibility of experiencing what we offer, doesn’t it shift the way we think about this away from being boastful or self-serving, instead, in the direction of being a contribution?