(Video link here.) Kate Conklin is an accomplished singer who coaches performers, athletes and thinkers to help them work better and excel. In this TEDx talk, she describes her unexpected path from studying traditional Bulgarian singing to investigating big questions about the creative life. They are well worth asking in the New Year. 

While in Bulgaria, Conklin started wondering “What are the qualities that make performance extraordinary?  What are the things that happen that make both the performer and the audience feel like they’re flying?”

Benedikt Negro/Cirque du Soleil O
Benedikt Negro/Cirque du Soleil O

That trail of inquiry landed her in the circus singing with Cirque du Soleil, working with performers of all kinds and exploring yet another seminal question:

How do the best of the best get better, even when their technical skill is already flawless?

The answer is startlingly simple:

Talent is insufficient, desire is insufficient. We have to chose to respond to our desire and do the work that we need to do to support that response.

aeralists Cirque

Conklin’s unexpected journey from Bulgaria to Cirque du Solei led her to discover her calling: helping performers transcend limitations that they had previously thought were fixed. Every step of the way she did two things: she “worked fucking hard” (in the words of a mentor), and she asked herself three powerful questions:

What do I want? and How might it be possible? and What will I be satisfied with?


In the still-new year we’re asking ourselves the potent questions that allowed Conklin’s own path to unfold:

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Read more about Conklin’s journey here.

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