To know me, is to know I love Broadway musicals. It’s a passion I discovered as an undergraduate when a mentor took me to my first show. From there, I was hooked!

This morning, I was listening to “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked. This song speaks to Elphaba’s (the Wicked Witch of the West) decision and choice to break away from the norm and follow the path her instincts, and to some extent, her values were calling her towards. Instead of complying and “being with the Wizard”, she realizes that she had changed.


She passionately sings

“Something has changed within me

Something is not the same

I’m through with playing by the rules

Of someone else’s game

Too late for second-guessing

Too late to go back to sleep

It’s time to trust my instincts

Close my eyes and leap!”


In business, it’s important for leaders to be willing to “Defy Gravity”. Innovators and disruptors exemplify this in how they are changing the landscape for consumers and humankind. The recent announcement by SpaceX that tourism to the moon, (yes, the moon) would be possible next year shows us what’s possible when a leader (and team) make a concrete commitment and work towards making it a reality.  In this case, they will truly be defying gravity.

So what about you??

How can you “Defy Gravity” in your leadership? Here are a few suggestions as reflected in Elphaba’s words

Trust your instincts: Research shows that through mindfulness and other practices you can cultivate an awareness and knowing that’s not just cognitive. In Somatics, we call this “whole body knowing”.  Engaging your intellect, instincts, and inherit knowing as a leader can give you a competitive advantage.  An example of trusting your instinct is demonstrated by Oprah Winfrey.  She uses a phrase (“What I Know For Sure”) both in one of her books and in many of her interviews.  For me, this phrase is a public declaration and reflection of a leader trusting her own knowing and instinct in her everyday life.

Stop Accepting Limits:  The limits that others place on us and the ones we sometimes place on ourselves can have a real impact on our leadership. These unseen (and sometimes unspoken) limiting narratives can keep us from reaching our full potential for greatness.  So, if the company you are at now doesn’t see your growth potential, find a company that does. When your boss pushes you outside your comfort zone, consider the possibility that they are helping you remove limitations. And when your own internal narrative is limiting or self-defending, don’t accept this as the truth.  As the saying goes, “Don’t believe everything you think!”.

What’s the cost?!: When we compromise in our leadership, it comes at a cost. Made sure you know the cost and are in choice. We’ve all had those water cooler conversations about what the company is making us do. Are they really making us or are we choosing to stay in a situation regardless of the cost??  One of the great exchanging in the song “Defying Gravity” is between Elphaba and Glinda (aka Glinda the Good Witch) where they are both challenging each other about making compromises in their beliefs (leadership) – “I hope you’re happy” they sarcastically go back and forward.  Glinda pleads “Just say you’re sorry:  You can still be with the Wizard.  What you worked and waited for.  You can have all you every wanted”.  With deep conviction, Elphaba replies “I know:  But I don’t want it – No, I can’t want it anymore”.  For Elphaba, the cost was much too high so flying solo was her choice.

So, as the world around us continues to evolve and change, I invite you to explore ways that you can “Defy Gravity” in your own leadership – “Everyone deserves the chance to fly”!

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