Nov 17

Can you change the idea of what is possible?

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Can you change the idea of what is possible?

Avid followers of America’s Got Talent will know about singer Mandy Harvey. For those who don’t know Mandy suffers from a connective tissue disorder and reached the point where she was legally deaf at the age of 19. How on earth did a deaf singer end up on a TV talent show?

Mandy lost her hearing when she was studying Music Education at Colorado State University and has described music as being her life. Understandably she felt that a future in music was impossible and inevitably disappointment started to take its toll, especially after receiving a letter from her College asking her to leave the programme.

What happens when the dream dies?

Mandy’s story was recently covered by the BBC who quoted her as saying:

“I made the mistake of associating my entire identity with one single dream, and when that dream died, I very much felt like I died. I became a husk of a person for a while.”

This pretty much seemed like the end for her.

What can happen when you don’t give up?

Eventually, having determined that she would have to give up on her dream, her father suggested she give music another go – she did, but with the aim of failing. She thought that music would be impossible for her and thought that if she was able to demonstrate this, the possibility wouldn’t ever be raised again.

After 10 hours of singing off sheet music and using an electric tuner to check that each note was in tune, she was able to sing the song without problem. She put this down to her perfect pitch and muscle memory.

This started a journey where she returned to lessons with her formal vocal coach and stated performing live. By the time she appeared on America’s Got Talent she had released three studio albums as well as completed a tour.

What spurred her on?

Mandy’s motivation was to show what it was possible for a person with her disability to achieve. In doing so she has developed her own way of working with her fellow musicians – she is barefoot on stage and feels the bass in her chest to keep in tempo. She also acknowledges that:

It is a beautiful thing to be a part of a team

Anyone who plays in a band will know that when it all comes together and everyone is playing their part, that it is immensely satisfying.

What can we learn from Mandy?

There are several things that stand out:

  • In her own words, her achievements “change the idea of what is possible”. Remember, when setting out to sing she was determine to fail, so she also changed her own ideas of what she could do.
  • Sometimes you need the people around you to encourage you to push the boundaries. If her father hadn’t challenged her to carry on with her music, she wouldn’t be the singer she is today. This is a great example of how a coach can challenge people to be so much more than they otherwise might be.
  • Success often needs teamwork – what the team can achieve is often significantly greater than what we can accomplish on our own.
  • We are not defined by failure. We are defined by what we do to overcome life setbacks.

She didn’t win the competition but she inspired many people with her determination as well as reminding us that:

Irrespective if you do or do not have talent, you really do have to try and live the dream, despite the challenges you may experience along the road.

If you aren’t working towards your dreams, what is your excuse?

We won’t live forever, starting ‘tomorrow’ doesn’t cut it (because tomorrow isn’t a day of the week), so if you don’t start now, WHEN are you going to start? Dreams don’t wait… Or you can be like Mandy – just step up and DO it – change the paragdim. If you need help you can always ask a coach! At Westwood Coaching we are adept at helping our clients to #Changesomething or #Startsomething.

If you need any more inspiration, why not look at Mandy’s AGT video on YouTube:


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