Today is December 11 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you say what you want?” Navigating the chaos and translating one dream after another into reality requires a steadfast belief in one’s self. Such belief involves using your voice to say what you want. Otherwise, how do you expect others to know what you want? Knowing what you want and saying it out loud for others to hear is a lifelong commitment to your own personal growth. Madonna Louise Ciccone is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman. Better known as Madonna she once said “A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.”
As with so many Navigate the Chaos posts, today’s strategy involves a nuanced approach. The nuance lies in the fact that you need to understand when to say what you want and when to be quiet. Some situations call for quiet. For example, in the 1995 drama Crimson Tide, Denzel Washington (in the role of Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter), and Gene Hackman (in the role of Captain Frank Ramsey, Commanding Officer) stand atop their submarine just before it submerges. Here is the conversation between the two actors:
Ramsey: My last breath of polluted air for the next 65 days.
Hunter: (no response)
Ramsey: Gonna miss it. I don't trust air I can't see.
Hunter: (still no response)
Ramsey: This is my favorite part. Right here, right now.
Ramsey: Bravo, Hunter.
Ramsey: You knew to shut up and enjoy the view.
So, yes, there are times to use your voice and then other situations when you should remain quiet. For today’s reflection, however, Madonna’s strategy for navigating the chaos is our point of reflection. She achieved popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on MTV. Madonna is known for reinventing both her music and image, and for maintaining her autonomy within the recording industry. As Madonna said in a October 12, 2021 Rolling Stone interview “My show is my vision, my philosophy, my soul. I need to orchestrate everything. I have a message, and I need to be clear about it. I can’t rely on other people to do it for me. I fight for what I think is important, that’s for sure.”
Madonna has spent decades using her voice and in December 2016, Billboard selected her as its Woman of the Year. In her deeply personal speech reflecting upon her 34 years in the industry, Madonna discussed how she was able to navigate the chaos and keep moving forward as female artist despite one obstacle after another placed in front of her. Those hardships early on in life as a teenager who moved to New York City taught Madonna that she "was vulnerable and in life there is no real safety except self-belief.”
Having sold more than 300 million records worldwide, Madonna is recognized as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records. The Recording Industry Association of America listed her as the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century and the second highest-certified female artist in the United States, with 64.5 million album units. Madonna is the highest-grossing solo touring artist of all time, earning US $1.31 billion from her concerts since 1990. Madonna became one of the five founding members of the UK Music Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in her first year of eligibility. She was ranked at number one on VH1's list of 100 Greatest Women in Music and number two (behind only The Beatles) on Billboard's list of Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time.
Another artist who used today’s strategy to navigate the chaos was poet and author Robert Bly. According to the New York Times November 22, 2021, obituary Bly was born in Minnesota and “galvanized protests against the Vietnam War and started a controversial men’s movement with a best seller that called for a restoration of primal male audacity.” Bly wrote over 50 book including poetry, translations of European and Latin American writers, and works of nonfiction. Reflecting upon the need to use one’s voice, Bly observed “To be wild is not to be crazy or psychotic. True wildness is a love of nature, a delight in silence, a voice free to say spontaneous things, and an exuberant curiosity in the face of the unknown.”
How often do you say what you want?
If you are not saying what you want why is that?
Do you subscribe to Bly’s definition that “True wildness is a love of nature, a delight in silence, a voice free to say spontaneous things, and an exuberant curiosity in the face of the unknown?”
How free is your voice to say spontaneous things?
If your voice is not free, who or what is holding you back from saying what you want?
Do you maintain an exuberant curiosity in the face of the unknown?