Deborah, practicing one-buttock sailing — leaning in and going for it!
(photo by Tyler Fields, used with permission)
When I was a vocal performance student at the New England Conservatory of Music, one of my professors was none other than the inimitable, and much-beloved Benjamin Zander. He is absolutely one of the most inspirational people I know, with an engaging smile, expansive gestures, a crisp British accent, and — shining eyes (I stole this last part from Ben). Anyway, a fellow classmate recently sent me this video of a 2009 TED Talk that Ben did, and I liked it so much, I thought I’d share it with you. His message is about passion, vision, and awakening possibility — things that we’d all do well to tap into — whether you’re a sailor, a musician, or a CEO.
By now, I’m sure you’re wondering what exactly is a one-buttock sailor, anyway? And why is that even something to consider? Well, here’s a quote taken directly from Ben’s talk, which may help illustrate: “You know, a gentleman was once watching a presentation I was doing, when I was working with a young pianist. He was the president of a corporation in Ohio. I was working with this young pianist, and said, “The trouble with you is you’re a two-buttock player. You should be a one-buttock player.” I moved his body while he was playing. And suddenly, the music took off. It took flight. The audience gasped when they heard the difference. Then I got a letter from this gentleman. He said, “I was so moved. I went back and I transformed my entire company into a one-buttock company.” After listening to Ben’s talk, it became clear to me that the one-buttock approach can unlock tremendous inner potential — because your mindset allows you to engage on a whole new level.
Think about the power of this! The “one-buttock” approach is not only for pianists and musicians — it’s for athletes, teachers, artists, business people, and everyone else, too. Being on one buttock is quite literally “leaning in,” to be more fully engaged. But it’s also a state of mind. And although he uses music as a metaphor in this presentation, Ben’s lessons go far beyond the world of music and can be applied to anything. Like sailing, for example.
One last thought, which gives this one-buttock idea a little extra nudge: in The Art of Possibility, the book which Ben co-authored with his wife Rosamund, he writes about something he calls “BTFI” (Beyond The Fuck It). BTFI is a simple but very powerful idea: What would happen if you stopped fretting, stopped being a marshmallow, stopped avoiding the possibility of mistakes and just said “Fuck it!” And you went for it — no thought of perfect technique or of victory or defeat, just that exhilarating moment of jumping in, going beyond where you might previously have given up — and giving it your all. What then?
BTFI and one-buttock sailing, taken together, can help you move past where you think your limitations are, by opening you up to a world of possibility. So, — Take the Tiller! — an ocean of possibility really does await!
Here, below, is the video of Ben’s Ted Talk: “The Transformative Power of Classical Music.” Take a look – I promise you’ll be inspired!