I’ve always struggled a bit with the phrase ‘Be the star in your own life’. It somehow conjures up images of me having to take centre stage. Of having to draw the attention to myself. Of having to be witty and smart and beautiful enough to make others want to stop what they are doing and take notice of me.
The idea of what it means to be a star gets reinforced even more strongly when we think about the people we consider to be stars. We even give them the name ‘stars’; movie stars. This season the movie ‘A Star Is Born’, absolutely fantastic from all accounts by the way, cements the idea of a star being someone who is firmly in the spotlight.
Stars, in our context of popular culture, often have fame attached to them. These are the people whose names each of us is familiar with. We say things like, ‘She became a star in the nineties’ or ‘He shot to stardom last year’. When you are a star, there seems to be a pressure associated with it. It is as if when you are bestowed this title, it comes with an expectation; an expectation of some kind of perfection that is often defined by others. The general public is shocked when they happen to get a glimpse of a ‘star’ just being a regular person.
For me being the star in my own life has always seemed like too much pressure. I’ve often thought that being a really good supporting actor is a better fit for me. It allows me to be good but doesn’t put me in the awkward position of being selfish or giving the appearance of being a diva or being conceited. No doubt this stems from my upbringing where being the star of the show was not encouraged.
A couple of weeks ago, however, I had the chance to listen to someone who has caused me to rethink the star thing. We were at the Natalie McMaster Christmas concert at the Jubilee Auditorium. I had seen Natalie McMaster in the spring and had been incredibly moved by her fiddling, dancing and especially by her down-to-earth manner. When I heard she was planning a Christmas show that included her husband Donnell Leahy and five of their seven children it didn’t take long for me to get tickets!
The show did not disappoint. Natalie was her beautiful, relaxed, welcoming self. She and Donnell played flawlessly together. When they welcomed their children on to the stage to fiddle and dance, there was no question in my mind that the stage was filled with stars of the best kind.
There also happened to be a narrator involved in the concert and it was he who really got me thinking about stars. He mentioned about how stars have been used for centuries by explorers to guide the way. This idea had me pairing my idea of a person who is a star and the astrological usage of stars.
In the days of the early explorers, as they set out to explore the world, these adventurers would use stars to navigate. The Big Dipper was commonly used to keep a ship on course or to get it back on course if it had strayed. Other reports talk about the North Star being a guide because it does not dip below the horizon.
In the Christian faith there is a belief that it was a star that guided the wise people to the manger where the Baby Jesus lay. The Three Kings, the Magi, saw the star in the East and followed it.
The idea of these stars, these invaluable signposts, allow me to rethink my idea about being the star in my own life. The reason these stars were so important was because they could be counted on to be themselves. Explorers and Magi alike knew that they could depend on the stars to be in the same position night upon night. The stars seemed to understand exactly what they were best at being and they performed without fail; not to be the brightest, not to have the best colour, not to have the best shape or to demand all the attention, but to be doing exactly the job they knew how to best do. If this is what is required to be a star, I believe I can succeed in becoming one.
To be a star in one’s own life only requires us to understand who we are when we are living in alignment with our values and to steadfastly live this way to the best of our abilities. When others think about us, or come to us for a visit, or call us, or ask us for help, they do so with the great hope that when they find us, we shine with the consistency they have come to expect. They do not expect us to be the best or the flashiest or any other thing we are not. They do hope to find us in our natural place in the world shining in a way that is unique to each of us.
This I can do. I can live with integrity, showing up in all places in my life in the same way. I can be counted on to treat people of all walks of life with dignity. I can welcome princes and paupers into my world. I suspect what I loved about the Leahy-McMaster family, besides the joy they brought to my heart with their music, was the certainty they portrayed that whether I happened to see them in a store, in their home or on a beautiful stage, I would be seeing the same people. These truly were a family of stars.
In this week of Christmas, my hope is that each of us can be the star that is needed in our lives. I hope we can proudly and confidently show up as ourselves. I hope we can be a steady and safe guide for others. I hope we find a place of great importance to show up exactly as ourselves, and to understand that this is all that is required of us.
May you each have a wonderfully peaceful, merry and star-filled Christmas.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What is my star?’
Elizabeth provides leadership and personal coaching for individuals and teams. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. Contact Elizabeth to help you discover more ways to bring your star to your life.