It’s been 20 years since I transitioned from my first career as a performer and a teacher of opera and Broadway singers in New York City into the world of personal development and leadership coaching. That first career prepared me in countless ways for the work I do now, including recognizing the importance of staying rooted in the basics. In the business world, B2B refers to business-to-business relationships. However, during this Great Breaking Open, another meaning is showing up for me in Transformational Presence: B2B Back to Basics in the art of engagement.

In working with singers, I was a technique teacher. At the height of my first career, many of my students were established in their professional careers, singing leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera and on Broadway, as well as at many of the major opera houses and music theaters of the world. Yet even at that high professional level where you might expect technique to be solid, we were constantly coming back to basics—breath support, open throat, placement of the sound high in the head, free jaw and tongue, body fully engaged within a flow of energy.

While technique evolves for performers in all disciplines over the span of their careers, there is one aspect that is unique to singers—their body is also their instrument. As a singer matures from their 20s through their 30s and 40s and into their 50s and 60s, their body changes, and therefore, so does their voice. In turn, their technique must constantly evolve to accommodate the changing needs of their body and voice.

It’s the same in the arts of human engagement and conscious living. Life and how we show up in response to things that happen are constantly changing. Hopefully, during our growing up years and early adulthood, we learn some basic skills about how to be in relationship to others and to life’s unfolding. We learn about relationships and social systems, empathy and communication, negotiation and collaboration, discernment and navigation through all kinds of circumstances and situations. And then we keep coming back to those basic skills throughout our lives.

Yet many of us want more than just basic skills. We want to live more consciously.

Our next steps may be to focus on expanding our capacities for awareness, perception, and understanding. We may further develop our abilities to grasp a big-picture view, to navigate complexity, and to plumb our own self-awareness and inner complexities on deeper levels. We become more aware of our own personal presence and how others respond to us as we engage. Through our learning and development, we continue practicing the basic skills and now raising them to another level.

Yet some of us still want to go further. It is this next level that I have come to call Transformational Presence. We dive deeper, acknowledging Love as the source of life. We nurture our heart and intuitive intelligence, expanding our capacities for compassion and our awareness of the inter-connection of all of life. We take the basics to yet another level.

As we continue refining this next level of basics through the heart, compassion, clarity of thought, and a more profound understanding of inter-connection within the matrix of Creation, we discover a generosity of spirit emerging from within. More and more, we feel called to serve something bigger than ourselves. We navigate life with greater confidence and deeper humility at the same time. Our motivations, intentions, and sense of purpose or soul mission become even more clearly defined in service of a greater good.

Rooted in the basics, as we continue to refine our skills and capacities, we grow into the fullness of our being. We become artists of human engagement—artists of Transformational Presence.

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I became obsessed with a children’s book series of biographies of famous Americans. One in particular that caught my attention was the biography of African-American agricultural scientist, inventor, and environmentalist George Washington Carver. There was something about his spirit and his presence that radiated through the pages and made an impression on my young mind and heart.

Not long ago, I came across this quote from Carver’s writings. His words helped me understand even more what had drawn me to him when I was a child. And they bring us B2B Back to Basics.

How far you go in life
depends on your being
tender with the young,
compassionate with the aged,
sympathetic with the striving,
and tolerant of the weak and strong.
Because someday in your life
you will have been all of these.

—George Washington Carver

In this era of the Great Breaking Open, refining the art of human engagement and Transformational Presence could not be more critical. Let us remember to keep coming back to basics as human beings in community with one another, and then continually taking those basics to the next level. We have nothing if we do not have each other. When we have each other, we will find our way.

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