6 Lessons from an Amazing 81 Year Old Woman
I read recently that people who watch a lot of TV are generally less happy than someone who watches less. Well, it wasn’t just the amount of TV watched that makes the difference according to the study, but the fact that the viewer who is in control of what they watch tend to be happier. In other words, they control the temptation to just slump in front of the google-box and watch willy-nilly. I try my best to be the master of my TV consumption and I am very selective as to what I watch. But this blog isn’t about my TV habits-or yours- it’s about a fantastic docu-biography I happened to see the other night on BBC4.
The 81 year old female who inspired me is a British singer. A truly exceptional woman who has worked in the industry for seven decades. Yes SEVEN. I refer to, with the greatest amount of respect and admiration, Petula Clark.
Like me, you may only know that she had hit in the 1960’s with a great song, Downtown (One of my Desert Island discs). But she actually started her illustrious career as a child, starred in 30 films, sang with Frank Sinatra and danced in a movie with Fred Astaire, to name but a few of her achievements.
But this post is not another unauthorised biography about this steely, determined lady, but rather a sharing of her attitude which has kept her at the top of her game for so long (She released a new album at age 80). As she says herself, “Becoming a star is easy; staying there is difficult and requires hard work.”
“The illiterate of the 21st century won’t be those who can’t read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” Alvin Toffler from his book, Future Shock
Success leaves clues; clear footprints in the sand that lie across the path of the journey to achievement. We can follow in those footsteps. Here is a synopsis of some of what I gained from this very charismatic ‘star’.
When she first appeared in the States and was about to do a live concert, according to her aid, Petula was sick about 5 times in the hour before she went on stage. She did go on stage and gave a phenomenal performance. She felt the fear. She was scared. But she didn’t let that fear paralyse her. Several other times during her life and career, the documentary reported, she got scared too. She felt fear in large doses. But she acted. She mastered getting over it. And action is one of the ways to eliminate fear.
Is fear holding you back? Is it preventing you from giving it a go? Master what you do. Become the best YOU can be and take action. You will probably find the fear is nowhere near as large as first thought.
Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock (Written in the 70’s I believe) said, “The illiterate of the 21st century won’t be those who can’t read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”
Petula Clark tells of the time she transformed from a child actor/singer to a young woman singing. She explains that the craft of how she performed as a child star (That she had learned very well), she had to unlearn the techniques that made her a hit in Europe and the USA as a child, and relearn how to project herself as a young lady. You may think that is easy. But not many child stars make that transition successfully. And they have far more help I guess today than 60 years ago. She did this process of learning, unlearning and relearning several times in her career as she adapted with the times, her age and a rapidly changing and demanding market.
Are you learning, unlearning and relearning in your chosen field? What about your thought patterns? Maybe those need unlearning and relearning?
Petula Clark realised that if she was to give her best performances, she needed to be surrounded by those in her field who were better than her. And she did just that. She made sure as much as she could, that she mixed and mingled with people who at the time were at the top of their game. She also split from her own father who was her manager for many years. A tough decision, but one she felt she had to make.
I quite often tell new employee’s to go and work with the best. I tell salespeople or telemarketers for example, to spend time with the top closers in the office. Learn from them, get into their energy orbit, their mind and their aura. Learn from the best.
Who are you spending most of your time with? People who lift you up and inspire? People you can learn from? People who are better than you? Is there anyone in your life who is draining you? Could there be anyone you might have to see less of or cut out of your life altogether?
In the 1980’s The broadway show Blood Brothers was failing miserably. The critics knives had been out and they were ruthless and brutal with the reviews. It was about to be closed. It had lost a lot of money. Petula Clark (And David Cassidy) was asked to become the leading lady actor in the production. She said yes. The show was turned around almost overnight. It became known as the ‘The Miracle of Broadway’ such was her performance (And DC’s).
Her taking on such a project, under the circumstances, requires great self-belief. She could have played it safe and not taken the risk. Maybe she had nothing to lose? But she still did it, and saw it as opportunity. People without belief in their abilities wouldn’t take such a risk.
How much do you believe in you? How much do you believe you can have what you want to have?
Passionate and Humble
Petula Clark loves what she does. She is passionate about it. Think about it, would you work for almost seven decades in something you don’t like? Probably not (I hope not). Petula Clark has. She is also very humble and grounded. She doesn’t have a massive entourage and blacked-out limo’s. She likes taking the bus at times without make-up. She is a very wealthy woman, she could have a team at her every beck and call.
Are you passionate about what you do? Can you picture yourself still working in your 80’s? Even when you have no financial need to whatsoever? How do you treat others who you may view as ‘below’ you?
This determined lady put in a lot of hard work. She had very tough times at different periods in her sparkling career as the music scene changed drastically from decade to decade. But she kept at it. She kept moving forwards. She overcame these times by reinventing herself; adapting with the musical environment and changes that occur within an industry that seems to change year on year. You change or disappear. Or you tour playing your old hits of yesteryear.
How hard are you working at becoming excellent at your craft? How much time are you putting in? Are you learning, unlearning and relearning? Are you adaptable to your working environment?
I read a lot. I like reading (and watching) how other people have made it in life. It gives me great pleasure to study their minds because that is what I love to do. I don’t idolise such people; I admire them. A big difference.
Read about others who have become successful. It leaves clues. A trail already mapped out for you. Follow it.
NB: The information provided in this article may not be 100% accurate and should not be viewed as such. I was scribbling down what I was watching. Some are personal interpretations and opinions and have not been told to me by Petula Clark (Unfortunately).