The Other Triple Threat

In “the biz” a classic triple threat is someone who can sing, dance, and act — and he or she does it all quite well.  Think Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra.

He can sing! He can dance! He can act!

There is an evolving other triple threat persona in contemporary life.   The type of person isn’t new, but society’s interest in such an individual is gaining ground again, and not a moment too soon.  It’s the person who has cultivated intelligence, genuine humility, and what I call a constant fidelity to organic purpose.

Cultivated Intelligence

Fortunately there are many ways to be an intelligent person, but not everyone proactively manages his or her gifts.  This triple threat is every day focused on learning, improving, and refining what she does well.  It’s more than being “smart” — being smart is something that can rest alone with the individual.  Intelligence is a kind of connectivity to others and a pushing out into the world of an energy that says, “I can do more to understand how events, people, and ideas intersect.”  Such individuals are never ashamed or embarrassed to leverage this energy.

Genuine Humility

This is where so many people who might have a cultivated intelligence or fidelity to organic purpose fall apart.  Genuine humility means understanding in your core that you are not very important in the scheme of things.  It doesn’t mean such a person is never proud of himself or that he has nothing to offer, but it does mean he possesses a self-deprecating attitude that keeps him close to earth.  These people are always sincerely trying to engage the talents of others and rarely are threatened by or fearful of that process.

Constant Fidelity to Organic Purpose

As with singing, acting, and dancing, each time another element is added to the formula it takes a person into a thinner atmosphere.  How many people really connect to a purpose that is not manufactured or self-serving, but that is an authentic part of who they are?  And how many of those people can stay true over time to that purpose?  In addition, the constant organic element knocks out anyone living a compartmentalized life.  It means not having gaping canyons of inconsistency in different areas of one’s life.  There are many fascinating people who have a lot to offer the world but who crumble when it comes to constant fidelity to organic purpose.  No one is perfect, but it’s fair to say some people are less imperfect than others, and it really shows in this category.

So, who are these people?

I’m not sure they are famous.  They seem to be our neighbors, our family members, and our friends.  But I am always on the watch for them, and I hold even “famous people” to this standard if they want my trust in any way.  If they aren’t lying through their teeth about who they are, I suppose I don’t really care much one way or the other.  I just want enough information to make a decision about what to expect and/or avoid.

My sister may have had the best line of the whole idea.  She thinks Harry Connick, Jr., raises the bar to impossible limits by breaking new ground in a life lived on all 6 characteristics.  Could it be there’s a new term?  The sextuple threat.  Now that’s some thin air!

Wonderland: Thoughts on Willy Loman, “Personal Branding,” & The Spirit

This is a draft of some thoughts I had while constructing a larger essay on issues of body, mind, and spirit.

There are good reasons for not disclosing our most vulnerable moments. One reason is that disclosure might change others’ impressions of a carefully crafted “personal brand.”

It is quite popular now to worship at the altar of one’s own marketing machine, and while I confess that I am attracted to the control and management the branding appears to offer, I have some concerns. I watch Gen Y especially lavish attention on personal branding and I keep having this disturbing mental image of Death of a Salesman.  I worry that any language commoditizing human beings is destined for moral bankruptcy and ultimate failure.

In even the short run, allowing others a glimpse behind our branding curtain, especially one that betrays our public trademark, risks potentially serious consequences. Those who have invested in our “brand” may become disoriented or even feel betrayed. If someone has yet to know us, he or she may decide not to engage, now or ever.

Asset? Sometimes.

As human beings we are drawn powerfully to the idea that we are to manage, control, decide, and dominate. Personal responsibility  surfaces regularly in politics, psychology, athletics, medicine, education and the law. In short we are surrounded by a culture of, “I’m in charge, and if I’m not it’s my own fault.”

We should take care of our bodies, and we should take care of our minds. A huge percentage of human potential is left on the proverbial table by our unwillingness to take up and use the things available to improve our lives through our own efforts.

Living exclusively in the intoxicating haze of our own power, however, is also a great way to lose touch with our spirit. It makes the reconnection more difficult.  Physical and psychological elements grown giddy with their own influence become increasingly resistant to being quieted and even silenced when their influence grows too great.

Some integration of mind, body, and spirit is clearly indicated for a balanced and healthy life, but the simplicity of this idea on paper masks the complex relationship of the elements that make us human. It is not a mathematical equation, for example, of spending too much time in your head, so now you should go for a run. Nor is it as simple as noting an absence of prayer or meditation time and devoting extra hours to the process until you recalibrate.

This issue rests in the need for a premise that our minds and bodies both serve and take direction from our spirit.