Back in early November I wrote a blog post, The Fear in the Belly, 11 Leadership Hacks to Overcome It, more of a reminder to myself that I was quite capable of getting through the tough days that are Term Four. In that post, under leaderships hack number Four - 'Blow off the steam', I promised I would put together a post of the songs that have been my 'go to' when my day has turned to custard and I am in the mindset where I am seriously considering and wondering how hard it is to be an Uber driver, walk away and have a fresh start. Fortunately the super tough days are more anomaly (why was that word so dang difficult to spell) than reoccurring cycles stuck on repeat!
This is not a definitive list.
There are many songs that I love to sing loudly in my car (and most days that is just because I love them and they make me happy - but that is another list for another day) and often they change, depending on what is popular for me at the time or what has struck a chord. Some are oldies and on reflection, only really come out of the archives on really tough days. Some I sing (or is that scream) out at the top of my lungs, with the volume so high it vibrates the car, possibly worries people on the sidewalk, and is probably impacting on my hearing! As a stress release, there is nothing like it! Others, I sing and they make me cry; yes the tears are ones of sadness, but they act as a healing balm, washing away my day. And this, this allows me to walk in through my front door and be mindful of those at home.
1. Miaa - Dynasty
What is not to love? This song is passionate, stirring and when you crank up the sound system and sing it loudly and with the same passionate verve it invokes in you, you can not help but feel the beauty of the music wash over you, and this, for me, instantly lifts my mood!
2. Sia - Alive
3. Andra Day - Rise Up
The words speak for themselves!
"And I'll rise up
rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times a day"
I crank this song up very loud, play it more than once and I sing this with as much gusto as I can muster. If the day has been particularly tough and I find myself in a fragile frame of mind, this song will bring me to tears, and for some reason, when the tears fall, I feel the weight of the day lift.
4. Artists of Then and Now - Forever Country
This song brings me straight back to my roots. I love this mash up of all the country songs of my youth, and it makes me happy. I can sing along, tap my toes and be transported back in time. It makes the list of blowing off steam because it is a great distraction. Its' time capsule abilities make it a great soothing track. The older I get, the more I stand up and embrace country music. I love many genres and I am a little tired of pretending to 'dis' country when I know its a big fat lie.
5. Glen Stapleton - Tennessee Whiskey
OMG, what is not to like! This bluesy, laid back song is my current favourite piece of country music and I love, love, love it. As soon as the first chords ring out, I start to feel relaxed. I can almost imagine myself sitting down in front of a roaring log fire, in a Queenstown bar in the middle of winter with a class of 'smooth whiskey' or 'warm brandy'. Hmmm. Listening to it now and I can feel the knots in my shoulders start to unwind. This song is a pure indulgence and my advice to all you country haters is do not knock it until you try it!
6. Disturbed - The Sound of Silence
This song is a little darker but for some reason, its darker tones make me feel lighter in my own soul, as if by singing its lyrics I can offload the baggage to someone else. As far as a remake goes, this is one of the best.
7. Imagine Dragons and Lil Wayne - Sucker for Pain
What is not to love? This is a most definitely 'turn up loud and pretend you are a rapper of some note' song! I love the lyrics, the beat and the movies one of my favourites! As far as a stress release kind of song goes, this is one of the best.
8. Muse - Uprising
This is my anti establishment song and when you hear this song belting out of my car stereo then you know its been a rough day and I am pretty mad at someone or something. This song came out during a particularly tough period of my career where it would be fair to say my distrust of bureaucracy was born, resulting in a certain aversion to risk taking (by that I mean messing with bureaucracy but that is another story for a more brave day). This song reminds me of what is important and that I need to have faith in myself - that it is ok to be an advocate and to stand strong, and not allow the scars to sway me. Avert eyes now if you are easily offended. It is my 'FU' song.
9. Pentatonic - Hallelujah
Actually, I am usually a bigger fan of Stan Walkers version, but either way, this is the one on my music playlist right now, and one of my current favs. It could be because it coincided with the Christmas season, but regardless, I love this song and singing it loudly makes me feel less anxious and a whole lot more chilled. On the rare occasion when the universe aligns, I have been known to hit some of the tough notes; it has to be super loud and if I pull if off, I feel a sense of accomplishment that nothing in my office that day could provide. For that itself, it is priceless. It just makes me happy.
10. Twenty One Pilots - Stressed Out
Kind of speaks for itself really. The lyrics really tickled my fancy. I Play it loud, sing with pride and let the music do its thing.
11. Blake Shelton - Do You Remember
Yes, it is another country song, and in fairness to Blake, I could add most of his songs to this list. There is something about his music that makes me feel warm, safe and bundled up in a warm and comfy blanket. His voice has the power to relax and chill. I first heard his dulcet tones on a plane trip across the ditch on the way to a conference - I had finished my movie and was flicking through the music playlists and found his 'Based on a True Story' album and its been a love affair since. I did not notice the plane landing (and that is the bit I dislike the most) and to this day his music makes me happy.
12. Siaa - The Greatest
Again, the lyrics speak for themselves. "I am free to be the greatest here alive...don't give up, I won't give up...I've got stamina'. It is a good reminder that we can do this, we can own this and we have the stamina to fail and stand back up! "Don't give up - no, no, no'
Only twelve songs - but twelve songs that can revive me from a leadership low, and make me feel whole again. I have more, but for the time being, these are my top (as witnessed by the 'recently played' playlist on my phone!!) I have always found music to be one of my biggest sanity savers, and I have noticed over the years that the music I love at the time, relates a lot to where I am at. I note that, for the most part, most of this playlist is about being strong, holding on and believing in your own strength and resilience.
I guess, at the end of the day, it is not important whether you like my playlist but if you have your own things (it may or may not be music) that help you 'blow off steam'. I have colleagues that like to run, and others that are Jazz aficionados (not my cuppa tea by any means), so what is yours?
Whatever your blower of steam is - may it be the magical antidote to any leadership lows you may have!