Just under the surface of your life is a person able to fulfill your deepest longings and dreams. Someone incredible who is filled with love, peace and joy. It’s who you really want to be when you are completely honest with yourself. This is who you really are deep down inside. But it is difficult to let that person emerge from their shell so they can be fully seen. This is called, ‘the authentic me.’ Michelangelo knew how this felt.
Understanding this truth, helped him become one of the greatest artists in the world and he applied this principle to specific sculpture he called, “David.” He is known as the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance and among his other works are the Sistine Chapel frescoes in Rome, Vatican city and Pietà which depicts the Virgin Mary grieving over the body of Jesus who is lying on her lap after the Crucifixion.
The realization of what Michelangelo discovered became known as The Michelangelo Phenomenon.
David was sculpted out of a block of marble that became one of history’s most famous masterpieces. What’s interesting is that this same block of marble was twice rejected by other artists and sat 40 years waiting for the hands of Michelangelo. Like many of us, people lied about its potential and kept in the shadows of false pretenses and unworthiness.
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
Everyone of us is like that block of stone, there’s greatness inside, but it has to be released. It has to be carved out through hard work. It has to be sculpted by the individual who can perceive their own greatness. You must recognise it in yourself, but you can’t do it alone. You have to enlist the love and care of others.
Bringing out the Best of Yourself
The Michelangelo phenomenon is about others bringing out the very best of what inside you, in order for you to reach your fullest potential. You are the block of marble containing greatness inside. But you need the people who are in your life to chip away the excess and help shape the beauty within.
The world tells you the lies. You can’t reach your dreams, you are a failure, you cannot be the person you deeply desire to become. The list is endless. These lies are there to greet all of us around each corner of life’s road and they steal the hopes and passions of who we want to become.
All of us have to develop mentors and close peers who will begin the ‘hammer and point work’ of picking up the tools we need for our very best to emerge. Your coach uses a mallet to break the negativity from your life. A close confident grabs a long point chisel, to bring the truth of who you truly are to dispel the lies attached to you from life’s journey. This is why we need each other!
When I went through a particularly dark time in my life, everything about my calling was under attack. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever gone through. Lies were zinging over my head, I felt like people were spreading rumors about me, and much of what I had stood for was being assaulted. It was my, ‘dark night of the soul.’
I may have drowned were it not for The Michelangelo phenomenon. Out of my brokenness I closed down excess circles of relationships and focused on the inner circle. I became open and vulnerable to a few. Those closest to me spoke light and truth to my situation. They helped me to find perspective when I was stumbling in the dark. They chipped away at the rock until my true self was able to emerge.
The darkness finally came crashing down and my personal David revealed. It’s the reason I am where I am today.
How do you engage The Michelangelo Phenomenon?
1. Commit to the process – you need to do the work to reveal the best version of yourself.
2. Make a conscious decision to walk in humility. Humility is the doorway to greatness.
3. Submit yourself to a coach or a mentor. Michael Hyatt has a great resource on this called, How to Find a Mentor to Help you go Further, Faster. Access it here.
4. Decide who you want in your ‘Michelangelo Group.’ Call each of them and agree to meet often – whether in person, Skype, or phone. Tell them you want to forge a close and deeper relationship and want them more involved in your life. This is often part of the “chipping” process for them as well.
There is no how-to manual on how to create The Michelangelo Phenomenon. It exists because people have put themselves on the line and committed to being their very best. It is a process not a destination. But being our very best is something the world needs. We were created uniquely and have a very special gift that is waiting to be revealed. It has nothing to do with fame and everything to do with purpose. Draw the line in the sand and make today the day your true self started to flourish. Do not put your hand on the plough and look back. The past generally has nothing new to say.
The bottom line of the Michelangelo principle is that it was a raw piece of stone and marble. The beauty needed an artist in order to emerge. We need this ‘phenomenon’ in our own lives and we need to be aware that we are also the artist for those we are called to walk beside. This can look many different ways.
For me, the greatest mentors and friends simply met me for a glass of wine and a good laugh about the trouble at hand. Others rose up to defend me when my only job was to stay steady and quiet. Regardless, their willingness to help chip away and release the greatness within me has changed my life. Truly, my life is forever changed because of this ‘effect.’ Now, I am empowered to live out of my most true self and I’m free to help others see the greatness that’s inside. You will too.