I’ve Always Thought of Myself As…
Suzanne Ciani is a pioneer. She’s an innovator. She’s a musical genius. She helped create a whole new musical genre in the late 1970s and early 1980’s. She is, arguably, an icon.
She was the first female electronic musician. Her instrument of choice was the Buchla Analog Modular Synthesizer. She created sounds no one had ever heard before.
I had never heard of her. I had heard her work though, but was oblivious as to how it had been created.
Her body of work is very impressive. She began producing sounds for ads in the 1970s. She composed scores for television commercials for corporations such as Coke, AT&T, Merrill Lynch and General Electric.
She was particularly adept at creating sound effects on her Buchla (synthesizer). One of her most widely recognized sound effects was the sound of a bottle of Coke being opened and poured. It could be heard in countless radio and TV commercials in the late 70s.
The demand for her work was so great that she was doing up to 50 studio recording sessions each week. In 1977 she provided the sound effects for the disco version of the Star Wars soundtrack. She was the first woman to compose the soundtrack for a major Hollywood film when she wrote the score for The Incredible Shrinking Woman by Lily Tomlin.
She scored a number of films and also recorded many of her own albums throughout the years. She helped pioneer the New Age music genre. And, she even started her own record label. Her list of awards spanning her career is impressive, and include:
- 5 time Grammy nominee
- Best New Age Keyboardist – Keyboard Magazine
- Clio Excellence in Advertising awards – 1977-1989
- Best New Age Album – American Federation of Independent Music
- Most Valuable Synthesizer Award – National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
- Best New Age Album – Independent Music Awards
- Lifetime Achievement Award – Audio and Engineering Society
- 2017 Moog Innovation Award
I listened to her being interviewed recently on CBC radio. It was in this context I became aware of her impressive career, and her remarkable accomplishments. However, it was something she said in passing that caught my attention. What she said seemed to linger in the air as if to say, “Pay attention to this.” I had to pull over in my car and write it down.
What did she say?
“I’ve always thought of myself as a composer.”
“Nothing to significant about that”, you may be thinking. Perhaps, but this is what hit me: she was intentional about what she thought of herself. When she thought of herself, she thought of herself in a positive and significant fashion.
I’ve met too many people who don’t think of themselves in this way. They don’t think of themselves in the best possible light. They don’t think of themselves well.
As Eddie Lemoine said, “We bring about what we think about.”
So what do you think about yourself? What are you bringing about? How would you complete this declaration?
“I’ve always thought of myself as…”
I have heard many different conclusions to that statement, from many different people…
“…not good enough, not smart enough, a loser, weak-willed, undisciplined, second best, an accident, a disappointment, a failure, a bad leader, not really a leader, all alone, someone who can’t trust others…” You fill in the blank for you.
Or how about this one?
“I’ve never thought of myself as…” A leader? A good leader? Someone capable of doing great things?
Let’s learn from Suzanne’s example, let’s choose to believe the best about ourselves. Let’s not be afraid to think of ourselves in the best light possible. Let’s set high standards for ourselves to which we will hold ourselves accountable.
It’s surprising the number of times I’ve heard leaders who don’t really recognize that they are leaders. Leadership is all about influence. If you’re influencing others, you’re a leader. It doesn’t do anyone any good for you to be insecure and not think of yourself as a leader.
Or, as Marianne Williamson said, “Your playing small does not serve the world.”
So, what do you think of yourself as?
Set a high standard for yourself – for the good of those you influence.