Erica Jennings on Courage

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In this compelling episode, we delve into the profound realm of courage with Erica Jennings. Erica started her career as a lead singer in a band called SKAMP back in the ’90s. She continues to inspire people through her work as a musician, speaker, coach, and mentor. Whether on stage, through her writing, or in one-on-one interactions, she continues to spread a message of hope, resilience, and empowerment.

In this episode, Erica delves into the complexities of courage. She challenges conventional notions and invites listeners to redefine what it means to be brave.

Read the transcript

Egle:

Hi guys. I’m very excited to be back with a Bloomerang podcast. So we are finally rolling and today I’m very excited to have a very special guest, Erica Jennings with us. Erica is the lead singer at a band called SKAMP. SKAMP gave voice to the youth of the post-independent Lithuania. That’s the time when I was also growing up and they really represented the worldly, cosmopolitan, independent young person who is going after their dreams and is not sticking to any rules or categories that the society is imposing to us. So I guess you would understand why I like them. For me, they really represented this kind of entrance into authentic life and to a fulfilling life, and I was very excited that I had the opportunity to work with them at the time. So we are reconnected with Erica after many years and we’ve created the avatar with her for the Bloomerang game, and that represents courage. So the avatars in the Bloomerang game, kind of our companions when we play the game, they’re here to teach us about a particular superpower that activates courage. So today we’re going to talk with Erica exactly about that and she’ll share with you what she’s learned over the years of being a singer, performer and making SKAMP to be the famous band that they are. So let’s dive in.

So the Boomerang game is all about encouraging people to live authentic, fulfilling lives, and it’s centered around the idea of blooming inside out. Hence, we have the title of Bloomerang game, which is one, we are doing what we love in life, we radiate inside out, and that attracts all the good things that life has. So what is “blooming” for you, Erica?

Erica Jennings:

We bloom in our sort of late teens. We come into our young womanhood and this is another type of bloom. It’s beautiful and everything and then later, but we, it’s like different levels. It’s not just like we don’t bloom just once. We bloom actually quite a few times I believe, and we shed many skins as we go along. And I think it’s nice to when we recognize that and we’re okay with that and we embrace it actually because a lot of the things that we find difficult to deal with are societal norms that been, that someone decided is normal and they’ve put this on us as human beings. And so I think when you start to question everything and well, who said this is the case and why is it? And then you can start to really pick and choose what works for you.

Egle:

So in the boomerang game, your avatar represents courage. Can you share with us what is courage for you personally?

Erica Jennings:

Owning your truth and meaning, being able to really look at yourself and acknowledge everything about yourself, meaning the good in you, being able to take a compliment, but then at the same time, being able to see the things that need improving, the flaws that we have, the things we need to work on. Being able to look at them and say, yeah, or owning your mistakes is also very, for me, a very big sign of courage. Yeah I fucked up, it’s my mistake and I’m going to learn from it. I’m going to move forward as opposed to beating yourself up about it. We’re all human beings and yeah, there are so many different levels of courage that I think I, but one of the main things I think is really being true to yourself, being who you really are. And that can come in different forms for different people because some people might say, well then you need to show all sides of yourself to everyone. And for me, that’s not about being true to myself. I only let a few people see all sides of me, and I’m fine with that. And that doesn’t mean that I’m hiding or something. I choose to keep parts of myself and my life private because I think they’re precious and they’re not for everyone. And I also think that it doesn’t mean that you’re not brave. I also think when I talked about when I said earlier that sometimes I didn’t realize when I was being courageous because there’s specific things that really sort of injustice. When I see injustice in front of me, I find it very difficult not to say something or do something. It’s like a switch goes on in me and then when I look back on what happened, I’m like, oh my goodness.

Egle:

So when we are living the dream or we are creating our dream project, then there are always ups and downs. So we have the highs, we have the lows, and when we are in those lows and the dip sometimes feels like the world has ended and there’s no way out and this is it. So how do you live through those experiences that kind of put us in these lows? How do you swim out of that?

Erica Jennings:

Hard as it may be. We have to try and find something good in it. Even if you could say there cannot be possibly anything good that happened from this thing that happened to me. Well, maybe the thing that happened was the lesson that you learned. There’s always a lesson to be learned in everything. And I think that this is really important psychologically to help us deal with painful experiences. It’s like, well, yeah, so you grow from it because growth if you look at any plant or anything that grows, hurts, it’s painful. Growth is painful most of the time, whether it’s working out in the gym and then you feel dead the next day, you can’t walk around normally or It’s like having a baby or whatever. Those things hurt. And stagnation, for me, it’s like growth hurts, but stagnation kills. It’s just stagnation, you are like still water, you’re not flowing, and you’re not going anywhere. It’s just like it kills you in the end. So better you’re having a tough time and you’re out of your comfort zone, but you’re growing and yeah, you’ll still thrive in that situation of playing it safe and staying where you are.

Egle:

In order to bring something new into the world or just to always be fresh and innovative, we always have to be stepping out of our comfort zone and slightly be on that edge, that’s when growth really happens. Can you share with us your experience of stepping out of the comfort zone and really overcoming the fear? Because that’s what’s really kind of stops us. That’s what most people don’t overcome, in order to move forwards and experience that bliss, that the stepping out brings us.

Erica Jennings:

Stepping out of your comfort zone is terrifying. It is, but that’s the other thing. It’s like when people don’t want to think about the terror or fear, then what happens? Then you don’t recognize it, then you don’t do it. Whereas if you say, well, shit, I’m terrified. I’m really scared about this jump. Let’s call it a jump. But you know what it’s like if you acknowledge that you’re scared because fear is not logical at all, but if you acknowledge it and you sort of look it in the eye and you’re like, yeah, it’s scary, then you think about that for a while and then it starts to get less scary. And then you face it and you do it scared. If you’re scared, do it anyway. Just do it even if you’re scared at the time.

And I think another thing which is really, really cool and which has to be, which is really, really important and we have to really instill especially in girls is, and why I say especially in girls, to give people context is that statistically, they’ve done a lot of studies on this where let’s say in math or science, there’s problems that need solving boys while they’re solving the problems, they’ll ask questions or they will wind. If a teacher sees them go through the problem and that they’ve made a mistake or whatever, the girls will very rarely they will keep going at it until they’re 99% sure that they’ve got it right and then they’ll show it. And this is social conditioning. So it’s super important that we stop teaching perfection to girls. This doesn’t exist. And again, we learn through failing, basically, we learn through making mistakes and it’s fine. It’s like, oh, well I think it’s this, and we teach your girls to put up their hands, ask questions, and not be, it’s okay if you’re wrong at the time. I think it’s a very, very important thing. And that’s a reason why fewer girls are in STEM. And that’s a big thing now because they found this out through the studies that they’re trying. They’re using this to get more young girls into stuff, which is really important for the future. So yeah, just sort of getting rid of the idea of perfection and that anyone who’s ever succeeded at anything crossed the board. And this is a big generalization, but it’s true. They have failed always.

Egle:

So you guys, when you started with SKAMP in Lithuania in the nineties, you were like this fresh cosmopolitan band that was really sweeping the floor and bringing the fresh breeze into the youth. I’m very excited that we had the chance to work at the time. I remember that it was really difficult to kind of convince the radio and the TV to play your music and to really show that what you’re bringing is needed. So how did you guys overcome all the rejections that were coming out from this sort of very brick-and-mortar type of mentality? Can you share with us a few stories on that?

Erica Jennings:

What served us really well and me was I had absolutely a hundred percent belief in my capabilities. I knew this, at least I was sure about that I was going to do it and I could do it, and I was meant to do it, and a good singer and Terrance the best, and this is how you have to be. But we also put in the work we did all of that sort of groundwork that we needed to do while people were saying no and that we were sort of sounded too strange and unusual and nobody else sounded like it.

So then we made our own merchandise. We didn’t have much money or any money that we got, we put it into T-shirts or stickers. This is before social media people. So to wait to get exposure was either to play live or to get on TV. So that TV, that’s the box thing that’s in your parents’ living room with the antenna. So we had to get on there. So basically we had this great idea, which was actually a pretty good idea. And so I would’ve been about 16, 17 at this stage. And so we made some stickers, made some T-shirts, I think that was about it. And then we called up the stations and we said, listen, maybe you want us to have us on for the interview because we’re this band and we have some merchandise. You can make a competition because in those days it was like, make it a competition. Callers call in all that stuff. So we did a lot of the times we actually got our first foot in the door for those interviews through that very cunning of us. And at the same time, we were constantly getting rejected. It was like for two straight years, radios didn’t want to play us. Nobody wanted to sign us, no one, no. It was just like, no, no, no, no, no. Wait soon. Yeah.

Egle:

Oh, my two years. And what kind of rejections were these?

Erica Jennings:

Yes, it was about two years. And the main rejections were that people, the masses wouldn’t understand us. And then we were like, well, how can people ever sort of know if they like something, if they never hear it? If you keep playing the same shite, well that’s sort of a vicious circle. It doesn’t make any sense. Yeah, mixed too many different styles, we were mixing languages, we didn’t have any sort of style, we looked the way we wanted to look on any given day, that sort of thing. Of course, what those people who were in their positions at the time, they didn’t see that there was a whole new generation of post-independent kids who were the same age as us who needed that voice. And so we got the one chance and as soon when we were ready, and that’s the other thing, you got to be ready. You have to do the groundwork. You really have to prepare because then when you get the chance, you are ready and you just grab it. And we grabbed that chance and we got this solo sentence. He said we’re giving you the chance to go and put Summer’s album on the summer compilation. And then the song went on there, and then it just went, it’s like within one week. And it became the most-played song. We played it twice in an hour, every hour, and it changed our lives. That was it. But the groundwork was done and we knew who we were. We knew what we wanted to say young as we were because we’d gone through the process. So that’s why I really think it’s important that people, especially whatever you’re trying to do, that you’re ready, you’re ready to put in the groundwork. And it’s not just about that you really believe in what you’re doing and one thing that’s really important is that you have to like what you’re doing and like who you are. And because so many people won’t like what you’re doing and they won’t like you, so sorry, but it’s true. So if at least you like it, then hey, if they like it, that’s great. If they don’t like it, will you still like it? So yeah, this is really important, especially when you get a lot of exposure. People come at you from all sides and it helps when you know who you are.

Egle:

So the Bloomerang game takes people through a certain process toward achieving a goal. When we are doing the deep-dives and we choose which game we want to play, whether we want to build a brand or we want to create a product or we want to more activate creativity and establish more harmony in the team, we choose a certain goal. And we have a really well-defined structure that I’ve perfected over the years doing workshops in various parts of the world. But once I created the game, I flipped the process around, meaning I got rid of what’s obviously kind of creating these boxes and embraced the concept of flow to give freedom to the people. And that really, once we get into the mode of play, that unlocks creativity and releases a lot of energy, which we then capture and channel into other things that we want to achieve during the game. So your avatar, Riona, that represents courage, takes us to the creative stage of unknown horizons. We also have these sets of creative flow cards, which denote every stage in the creative flow process. And yours is really the one that takes to the unknown horizon. That’s something that we experience after success when new things open up and new territories are available for us. So how do you understand flow and what is it for you?

Erica Jennings:

Flow for me means following your intuition. And I think that the sooner we all get back to that and rediscover our intuition, because nowadays it’s so sort of blanketed, not known, but it’s like it’s sort of somewhere deep down there, whereas it should be up here because it’s those initial, your intuition is like the feeling when you actually feel something. And then what we do is a friend of mine, Christina, she said it in this perfect way, she said, when you realize that you’re in a bad relationship and you’re supposed to break up and this is your intuition, your intuition’s here, and then it’s like five years later, we accept it. The point is that we have to get back to this to trusting our intuition. And so for me, I would say that I was very, very much in that zone and that maybe I would say in hindsight that I feel like I should have maybe been more controlled in my strategies or whatever, that sort of thing.

Egle:

So let’s talk about the dips, dips, dips, dips, we all have them. They are the states that really are not fun to be in, and they’re very exhausting. At least for me, once I get there real, it takes a while to get out and restore my energy level and move forward. Unfortunately, that’s something unavoidable as well. With time you can learn to accept that these dips in the creative process in life exist and we just need to nurture ourselves when we are there. And so we minimize the bruises. How do you live through them?

Erica Jennings:

I think that it’s normal to feel when you get in those ruts, when you get in those crisis moments and you just feel like nothing’s going the way it’s supposed to be going. What else do I have to do? I need, I think the main thing is to sit with it. That’s what I’ve learned to do. Sit with it. Because if you know you’re doing everything you can do and only you know that, then you can say, well, okay, fine. So I’m going to let it sit for a while. Because if you’re doing nothing and then you’re wondering what’s happening, well that’s another story. But yeah, I would say it’s the people who are creating and working really hard and it’s just not going as fast as they think it is or should be, just to sit with it, come if you’re doing, again, the groundwork and all the other stuff because not everything happens. And also very often they happen. Those things happen when they’re meant to when you’re ready for it to happen as well.

Egle:

So let’s talk a little bit about success. This concept that has so many flavors in our society and in different parts of the world especially, this is seen in so many different ways. One would want to make a million, another would want to save the forest, and another person would be just ready to do anything they can in order to bring out their creative idea into the world. It’s just that. And another person would be so happy to have a stable, simple life, family life. And of course, you might also want to have that all. So for a creative like you, what do you think is the most important ingredient in having a successful creative career?

Erica Jennings:

Well, substantial long success, because that’s the other thing, it really sounds cliche, but it’s so true, it’s easy to get a 10, let’s say in school once, it’s hard to keep this level. If you want to have a long career, you really have to know what you want to say. Why are you doing this? What’s the point here? This is true because otherwise it really doesn’t last very long. Most often I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. Mostly it’s because of that.

Egle:

The youth, the new generation, they’re so brave and confident and free and worldly. I have a lot of early twenties friends who are kind of going out into the world doing what they love and nothing stops them. And I love you guys. Keep on doing that. That’s the way to live. Navigating creativity and making money is a timeless challenge. I remember myself, I was always trying to find what works in that way so you don’t lose your dream, but at the same time, while the dream is not yet working, you need to figure out how to make a living, pay the bills, and invest in what you want to create. So what would be your advice for young people who are still finding their way in blending that, doing what you love, and making money?

Erica Jennings:

Well, it’s hard for me to, we started very young, so we didn’t need that much money. We were still living at home and stuff. Yeah, it’s tough. The facts are that we invested a lot of money and any money we made, we always put it back into the thing. So we sort of put everything into that as opposed to, I dunno, buying ourselves a flat, for example. I’m talking about over the years. That was a choice we made and it paid off in the end. But the thing is that, yeah, you might have to starve a bit in the beginning. You might be broke for a while. That’s just the way it is. But I mean, there’s not much advice to give there. It’s like whether you are willing, if you’re okay to do that or not. But on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong. I don’t think so with having a day job or a, I dunno if you’re a photographer for example, taking more commercial things and then doing what you really want to do, I don’t think that’s a problem. I think that that’s a good thing. I think you can learn things from that. I think that you learn also like a business savviness when you do sort of running the two things I think that you need, we need to lose the whole stigma also about, well, you’re not a real artist if you are, I dunno, playing at a wedding or something. I mean, I think this is nonsense because there was this stigma before, and I think a wedding is a beautiful event and what’s the problem if you’re performing your songs there if people want, and the thing is, it’s not like corporate gigs, which the same people who complain about those gigs, they play the corporate gigs where those people don’t really, I mean, you’re there, you’re not there, whatever. But a wedding as an example, they really want you there. So you’re making their whole best day of their life kind of thing.

And so if you’re doing that at the same time you’re working on your true authentic art, well then what’s wrong with that? I mean, you have to hustle. I guess if that would be my advice. If you’re asking me what would I advise young people to learn how to hustle and hustle, hustle, hustle. What you’re going to have to do anyway, if you’re getting into your own, if you’re doing what you love and you’re in the arts, you’re going to have to learn how to hustle. You’re going to have to grow thick skin and you’re going to have to learn how to hustle. And once the faster you learn that and you have street smarts and you’ll find your way because again, you’re putting in the groundwork, you’re preparing and you’re propelling yourself forward. So yeah, hustling is good, meaning you take the jobs that you’re offered, you pay your due, you go through that whole process as opposed to saying, oh no, I’m just going to make my thing and wait for people to come and recognize me. It doesn’t work that way. So yeah, that would be my advice. Learn how to hustle.

Egle:

So Erica, you are a mother of three children, two boys, and a girl, and you are growing them with your own modern parenting mindset in the context of Lithuania, where of course there are certain challenges, and by the way, Erica coaches parents on modern parenting. So you can book a coaching session with her through the Bloomerang website, and she’s also releasing an online course about that pretty soon. So stay tuned and follow her on Instagram. So how do you Erica, nurture courage in your children?

Erica Jennings:

So nurturing courage. There are two things we can do with kids now when we raise them from when they’re young. The first thing is instilling them with a very built-up sense of not entitlement. Don’t misinterpret entitlement with self-confidence or arrogance, but self-confidence, self-belief, believing that they can do anything. I’m very clear when I tell my kids when they were growing up that you’re the best. You’re the best girl, you’re the best boy to me. And I always said to me, because as I explained to them, Josephine’s parents think that she’s the best to them. So they understand they’re not the best in the whole world, but they are the best. They know you love them and that you think they’re the best thing since anything. So this is important because then they go out into the world with this self-confidence and belief, and they know that if this is also how I was brought up, I was brought up the same way. Then my dad always told me, you can do anything. Just put your mind to it.

And so instilling courage I would say starts with giving your children a sense of really not a sense, but self-confidence, self-esteem, and then the second thing, which is equally important, is the capability to be able to do things for yourself. So that means helicopter parenting is out the window and just letting your kids learn how to do things for themselves. These two things are super, super important so that when they go out into the world into this, even in five years, it’s going to be even completely different world. So they have at least those two things, which we’ll see them far. And I think that that definitely builds courage, definitely gives you the strength and the self-belief to be brave.

Egle:

So courage is one of the qualities, the superpower, that it will enable any creator to go for their dream and really bloom inside out. And as we already talked, Erica’s avatar, Riona embodies this quality and teaches us during the Bloomerang game how to nurture this quality within. And as we are developing a new quality, we need to always create that space inside to really allow that quality to grow and develop. And that always triggers this uncomfortable feeling that needs to activate inner growth. Erica, what do you think triggers the inner growth?

Erica Jennings:

Yeah, but the thing is that the internal growth happens usually again with time. Because when I was 14, I was like that. I was brave, but loudly brave because I was also insecure. I was 14. So with time we become, we are at peace with who we are and we know who we are. I think that just happens with time. And then yeah, you’re more, you don’t feel the need to talk a lot or because you’d rather listen and you feel secure enough yourself to be around people that you can learn from. You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. I think that also says a lot when you want to actually be around people who are smarter than you and that you can learn from. I think this is really, really cool. A big sign of confidence. But I think that talking again about confidence or courage about courage in general is definitely about if there’s one thing that you can, if you want to create your dream, there’s a lot of second lifers in the world now, and this whole generation of people who got into jobs that they didn’t really want because the parents told them to or whatever. And then at some point, they realize they want a second life. And there’s this saying that goes, we live two lives and the second one begins when we realize we only have one. And so if there’s one thing to say about courage, it’s don’t wait until that moment starts. Just do it now. Because as hashtaggy as it sounds you only live once. It’s true, and it’s short and it’s gone like that. So can get on with it guys. Go forth and create whatcha waiting for why are you looking at this reel? Go shoo.

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