We recently saw Patti Smith performing in Cambridge and she was raw, honest, heartfelt and truly inspiring. She was herself. She didn’t pretend to be anything else. She stood up on stage as herself. No special effects, no costume, no makeup - just her, her band, and their music. And what made her act stand out from the other acts in the festival was that she knows who she is, she knows her strengths, and that is what she gives.
In a 2013 interview, she explained why she gave up fame in the late 70s. Her career was taking off but she found fame too corrosive. She explained that she didn’t have time to read, study, write - she was on a merry-go-round of promoting, going to radio stations, performing and she didn’t see human evolution in this. “It doesn’t do a whole lot for making you a better person” she explained. “The main thing was I didn’t think I was producing anything of extraordinary worth.”
There is an extraordinary lesson here. Life is about being our best selves. And when we are truly ourselves, that is when our greatness is unleashed upon the world. That is when our work is at its best. That is when we produce our masterpieces - whether those are books, songs, projects, organisations, etc. Let us not be distracted by what other people think we should be doing or want us to be. Let us not be distracted from producing our masterpieces by being on a merry-go-round of other people’s agendas. Instead, let us be our true selves producing our masterpieces. This is the path of fulfilment, contentment, and love. Where we are our authentic selves.
Patti Smith accepted Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize on his behalf in 2016 in Stockholm and she sang "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall". You can watch it here. She’s nervous and she stumbles a couple of times. A punk rocker with decades of experience performing in front of audiences and yet she stumbled in this performance. The performance is extremely moving. However, it is even more touching because of her vulnerability, her honesty, and her mistakes.
When we are ourselves we can’t go wrong. We are not hiding, not pretending, we are not covering up our mistakes - we are authentic. And being authentic is powerful, inspiring, and wonderful. It is our Wonder Woman.
“To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are.”
We Are All Wonder Women is an international movement for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career.