By the time I was four, I knew I wanted to be an entertainer. I used to put on plays with my brother, Howie, in our living room. One of our recurring dramas was the story of Mugsy and Bubbles, where Howie was Mugsy, the gangster, and I was his moll, Bubbles. Why I didn’t play Mugsy baffles me to this day, since I was always the one calling the shots in our relationship.
When I started school, I took my creativity to the next level. Any time I could be up on a stage, I’d go for it. Nobody seemed to understand how genuinely creative I was, however. They’d placate me, sure, but I knew they didn’t see the pure genius in front of them.
I got what I thought would be my big break in the Fall of 1972 when I was twelve years old. My choir teacher, the ever-enthusiastic Mrs. Reynolds, announced that we’d be the final act in the Christmas pageant. Prestigious!
Then she uttered the two sentences I’ll remember forever: “One of you will be performing a solo to ‘O Holy Night.’ We’ll be conducting auditions next week.”
A solo? In front of hundreds of people? This was my chance to show my creative chops.
I wanted that solo BAD. But how would I get it? I was auditioning against a ringer: A flaxen-haired, angel-voiced, mini goddess named Cynthia. She always got the best roles.
Undaunted, I decided I needed to put my creative spin on this classic song. That would wow Mrs. Reynolds!
Since “O Holy Night” was pretty mellow by my estimation, I decided to pep it up with the newest musical stylings of the day.
My favorite pop singers were David Cassidy and Donny Osmond. My bedroom wall was plastered with their photos that I’d lovingly torn out of my Tiger Beat magazines. I knew the words to “I Think I Love You” and “Puppy Love” by heart; I’d sung them so many times, I had the vocal stylings down pat.
I decided that Donny Osmond would be my muse. I spent hours in front of a mirror, working out how I’d sing “O Holy Night” a la Donny. This performance was going to be my triumph. Cynthia would never know what hit her.
The day of the auditions arrived, and I was ready. I knew I had the solo in the bag.
I strode on stage, swinging my long braids back and forth, and hit my mark. I announced that I’d be singing “O Holy Night.” Mrs. Reynolds knew this, obviously, but I was a professional.
She let me know there would be no musical accompaniment. That was fine with me since true creativity doesn’t need accompaniment, after all.
“Go ahead, Anne, whenever you’re ready,” said Mrs. Reynolds. She wasn’t prepared for the sheer electricity she was about to experience.
“Oh, holy naaaaaaht, the stahs ah brahtly shaaaaah-nin’…”
I snapped my fingers and swung my hips like I’d seen Donny Osmond do on TV.
I was in my groove, feeling the music, knowing I was NAILING this performance.
“Thank you, Anne, that’s enough,” said Mrs. Reynolds.
WHAT? She cut me off! How could this be happening?
“Didn’t you like the way I sang?” I said. “I was singing it this way so people would actually listen to this boring song.”
“It’s a classic hymn, Miss Gollert,” said the now not-so-enthusiastic Mrs. Reynolds. “You need to sing it the way it’s written.”
I was crushed; my dreams of a big break were forever shattered.
Oh, and Cynthia got the part. Of course, she did—little angel goddess that she was.
Don't let anyone hold you back. Be the Creative Genius you were born to be.
Looking back now, that was the moment I decided fitting in was better than being creative. It took me 30 years to realize I could just let it all go and share my creativity with the world.
Now, I get to use that creativity every day, helping entrepreneurs reach their clients in their unique voice.
If you've ever had someone tell you that being creative isn't the way to go, it can stick with you for a long time.
But when it comes to being an entrepreneur, creativity is the name of the game.
So give yourself permission to let it go. Let your creative freak flag fly. The world will be better for it.