Awake at the Wheel

Exploring the intersection between work, play, and the creative process.

The Power of Sacred Self-Promises

So big was Vernon’s secret, even his parents were in the dark.

Every Sunday, young Vernon Bush and his family would pile into the car and drive 150 miles to the church where his dad would preach. Like most churches of that time, there was a small gospel choir that Vernon dutifully blended into.

But Vernon had a secret…

He had a gift. He could sing. I mean really sing. But he didn’t want anyone else to know. He didn’t want to be the center of attention. Just wasn’t his m.o.. So for years, he just blended in. The way so many others with great gifts do. Because the unease of stepping into your gift, especially if you’re on the “gentle-spirited” side of the social spectrum and your gift will place you in the spotlight, is more than a bit terrifying.

So big was Vernon’s secret, even his parents were in the dark. Vernon knew he couldn’t just blend in for life, though. He couldn’t hold back something that could touch so many. No matter how nerve-wracking the thought of going public was.

So he made a sacred promise. To nobody but him. He would go public by the time he turned 13. It took all 13 years to honor that sacred promise. But early into his 13th year, the choir director asked if anyone wanted a solo. Vernon stepped forward. People were a bit puzzled, but Vernon had to keep the promise.

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Soon after, he found himself in front of a church, his parents and family watching along. And, for the first time in his life, he didn’t just sing, he SANG!!! He let his voice out. And not only surprised and moved everyone in that church, but unlocked the key to his life’s work and joy.

Vernon is now a legendary vocalist, musical director and teacher. He travels the world, often working with kids to help them find and share their voices. And he’s a soloist at San Francisco’s famed Glide Memorial Church, where you’ll find Vernon fronting the 80-person gospel choir, singing to the 400-500 people packed into the house.

I had the chance to sit down with Vernon in San Francisco and talk to him about his extraordinary journey for this week’s episode of Good Life Project. But that’s not all. In a Good Life Project first, I actually got Vernon to sing.

Live, intimately, just him and a drum in his apartment as the sun set behind the cameras. It was pure magic.

And, in the comments below, answer this…

What gift are you hiding?

Are you willing to make a sacred promise to yourself to let it out?

And, what would happen if you went public with that promise…right here in the comments?

With gratitude,

Jonathan

Jonathan Fields is an attorney turned lifestyle-entrepreneur, speaker, and author of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance.

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